Rumour has it you’re keen to get out of the house.
Well, fortunately – given that you happen to live in the cultural capital of the world – you currently have many excellent excuses to do just that, chief amongst them being a ton of excellent museum exhibitions promising to amaze you with flying robots; showcase the work of Caribbean-British artists, and to tumble down a rabbit hole into the trippy world of virtual reality croquet.
Phantoms of Surrealism | Whitechapel Gallery
The Whitechapel Gallery is putting on a show examining the pivotal role of women as both artists and as behind-the-scenes organisers within the surrealism movement in Britain in the 1930s. Works by Sheila Legge, Claude Cahun, Ithell Colquhoun, and Diana Brinton Lee will all be showcased, and they are incredible…
Details: Phantoms of Surrealism runs at the Whitechapel Gallery until 12 December 2021. It’s free, but you must book a time slot, which you can do right here.
Kehinde Wiley: The Prelude | National Gallery
Kehinde Wiley is best known for his portraits, placing people of colour in the settings or typical poses of Old Master paintings. Most famously, he painted Obama’s official presidential portrait for the Smithsonian (becoming the first Black artist to do so). For his latest work, however, he’s shifted his attentions to the tradition of landscape painting – and it’s all going on show for free at the National Gallery.
Details: Kehinde Wiley: The Prelude is at The National Gallery until 18th April 2022. Tickets are free; you can either just turn up or book an entry slot here.
The Museum of Youth Culture Pop Up | Shaftesbury Avenue
Details: The Museum of Youth Culture is popping up at 154-156 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8HL until around February 2022. Entry is free, and you can just turn up – find out more HERE.
Lost Photographs of the Beatles | Shapero Modern Gallery, Mayfair
The late Lord Christopher Thynne must have been a real character. He was evicted from his family’s stately home, got arrested trying to take amphetamines away on honeymoon with him, and was fond of wearing cowboy outfits with a necklace made out of teeth. In between all that he found time to become a keen amateur photographer, which in 1964 led him to spend a few days with The Beatles on the set of A Hard Day’s Night. The negatives remained undeveloped for 57 years, and the photos are now on show for the first time at the Shapero Modern gallery in Mayfair.
Details: Lost Photographs of The Beatles is at the Shapero Modern Gallery, Mayfair, until 15th January (open Mon-Sat). Entry is free, and you can just turn up – find out more HERE.
Life Between Islands | Tate Britain
The Tate Britain’s latest exhibition has opened to rave reviews. It looks back on the past 70 years of British-Caribbean art, showcasing works by around 50 artists across all kinds of media, from painting and sculpture to reportage photography, film and fashion. The result is a breathtaking survey of both the joyous and fraught experiences of Caribbean-descended communities in Britain.
Details: Life Between Islands runs at the Tate Britain (closest tube station Pimico) until 3rd April 2022. Tickets cost £16, which you can book here.
Noël Coward: Art & Style | Guildhall Gallery
Noël Coward was an extraordinary person who led an extraordinary life, and now a free exhibition at the Guildhall Gallery is throwing a little light on the man, the myth he created, and that star quality that surrounded him. It’s curated by a bona fide Coward superfan, Brad Rosenstein, who has already put on acclaimed exhibitions across the U.S. The basic idea behind it is to show the enormous cultural ripples Coward produced, uplifting the nation through two world wars and one Great Depression, and how those ripples are still felt today… READ MORE
Details: Noël Coward: Art & Style runs at the Guildhall Gallery from now until 23rd Dec 2021. Tickets are free, but must be pre-booked. You can find out more, and secure your spot at the website right here.
Our Future Planet | Science Museum
Many of the world’s scientists aren’t thinking about slowing, or even stopping climate change – they’re thinking about reversing it. This exhibition is an exploration of the science of Carbon Capture and how agriculture, technology, and plain old trees can help. You’ll see everything from ‘air vodka’ made from sequestered carbon, to CO2-sucking mechanical trees…
Details: Our Future Planet is on at the Science Museum until the end of the year. It’s completely free, but you must pre-book your entry to the museum itself, which you can do here.
Alice: Curiouser & Curiouser Exhibition | V&A Museum
Something about Lewis Carroll’s stories about a girl who falls down a rabbit hole, shrinks to 10 inches and then meets a megalomaniac Queen served by a pack of anthropomorphic playing cards just seems to stick in people’s heads. And this blockbuster show at the V&A attempts to serve up just a slice of the cultural offshoots it has inspired, from the fashion of Vivienne Westwood and recipes by Heston Blumenthal to films, ballet, theatre and art. You’ll even see the makings of a nonsensical genius, with doodles from Carroll’s own schoolbooks. Also you can play hand-illustrated, virtual reality croquet. READ MORE
Details: Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser runs at the V&A (closest tube station South Kensington) until 31st December. You can book tickets (£20) right here.
Tomorrow’s Home | Museum of the Home
The Museum of the Home – which looks at how houses have looked throughout the past 400 years – is about to do something radical, and show you the future of the home. The installation, set 30 years from now, will look at how our homes could become more sustainable, offer us healthcare and become infused with tech, from intruder-detecting doormats to toilets that analyse your gut health and wallpaper that uses microbes to guess your mood…
Details: Tomorrow’s Home runs at the Museum of the Home (closest tube station Hoxton) until 9th January 2022. Entry is free – you can just turn up, or guarantee entry by booking ahead.
Anicka Yi: In Love With The World | Tate Modern
You know how it is with robotic scent-filled art installations – you wait for one, then two come along at once. The concept behind Anicka Yi’s new installation in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall is essentially ‘hey, what would co-existing with intelligent machines look like?’ – and apparently it looks like strange, inflatable jellyfish robots floating around the six-storey height space, releasing scents from Bankside history.
Details: Anicka Yi’s In Love With The World is at the Tate Modern until 16th January 2022. You can book a free timed entry ticket here
Lightfield | Marble Arch
Marble Arch Mound hasn’t received resounding reviews. But venture inside the artificial hill, and you’ll find something fairly mind-boggling: Lightfield. It comes to us from British sculptor Anthony James, and it’s a series of a dozen ‘transmorphic’ cubes formed from stainless steel, and packed with specialised glass & LED lights that constantly transform to create a beautifully hypnotic infinite universe within them.
Details: Lightfield is on until January 2022. To see it, you’ll need to climb the Marble Arch Mound then go inside. Tickets are free and can be booked right here.
London Grads Now 21 | Saatchi Gallery
Want to see some brand new art? Well, it doesn’t get newer than this – every piece at the Saatchi’s new headline exhibition has been produced by a London art school graduate. The 150+ works on show span all kinds of media, mood and style, and you never know – you might be looking at a future Picasso.
Details: London Grads Now 21 runs at the Saatchi Gallery (closest tube station Sloane Square) until 16th January 2022. Tickets cost £5-8 and can be booked HERE.
Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything | British Museum
Katsushika Hokusai is one of Japan’s best-known artists, famous for his woodblock print Under the Wave off Kanagawa, a.k.a The Great Wave. But what you might not know is that he also drew… everything. Recently a haul of 103 long-forgotten drawings were rediscovered, which he had made for a book called ‘The Great Picture Book of Everything’. For some reason, it never got published, meaning that the drawings were preserved instead of destroyed during the process of woodblock crafting – and now you can see them in the flesh.
Details: Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything runs at the British Museum (closest tube station Russell Square) until 30th January 2022. Tickets cost from £9, and can be booked here.
Helen Levitt: In The Street | The Photographers’ Gallery
This retrospective will give you a fascinating glimpse into life on the streets of New York over a fifty year period, through the candid portraiture and artistic eye of Helen Levitt. She spent her life documenting the communities of Spanish Harlem, The Bronx and the Lower East Side, and the pictures here are absolutely captivating.
Details: Helen Levitt: In The Street is showing at The Photographers’ Gallery until 13th February 2022. Tickets are included with admission (£5) – you can book ahead here.
On Happiness | The Wellcome Collection | Euston
This should put a smile on your face: the Wellcome Institute’s staging a pair of exhibitions focussed on Joy and Tranquillity. They’ve brought together artists, neuroscientists, philosophers and spiritualists to share installations, objects and ideas, amongst which you’ll find vintage projections of yoga practice; a 15th century medical handbook linking the body and the cosmos; and a stunning Sri Lankan print of Buddha on the path to enlightenment.
Details: On Happiness is showing at the Wellcome Collection until 27th February 2022. It’s completely free to view, but you’ll need to book ahead.
Beano: The Art of Breaking The Rules | Somerset House
You know an exhibition’s going to be good when it has an official shortbread partner.* But this celebration of the iconic kids’ comics has enough to commend itself regardless – you’ll be able to pore over original drawings and sketches from the Beano archives, read about its creation, and see new pieces from contemporary artists like Phyllida Barlow, Martin Creed, and Simeon Barclay created in response to the comic’s spirit of rebellion.
Details: The Beano exhibition runs at Somerset House until 6th March 2022. Tickets cost £16 and can be booked here.
Beautiful People | Fashion & Textile Museum
This one’s dedicated to the bright young things of the 60s and the psychedelic fashions of Chelsea’s counterculture boutiques. There’s about a hundred outfits on show – some of which were worn by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – all showcased in recreations of classic stores like Biba, Dandie Fashions and Granny Takes A Trip.
Details: Beautiful People runs at the Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey until 13th March 2022 (closed Sun/Mon). Tickets cost £12.65/£10.45/£11.55 (students/concessions) and can be booked here.
Zadok Ben-David: Natural Reserve | Kew Gardens
Want to know what’s so special about Zadok Ben-David’s art? Well, for starters, this isn’t a painting. It’s a mere fragment of his incredible new installation, comprising 17,000 etched and hand-painted 2D flower sculptures. You’ll find it, rather fittingly, at Kew Gardens, where you can admire 108,663 living plants afterwards.
Details: Natural Reserve runs at Kew Gardens until 27th March 2022. Entry is included with your tickets to Kew (£17.50), which you can book here.
Amy: Beyond The Stage | Design Museum
A tribute to the talent of the late singer and musician Amy Winehouse, with original outfits she wore on stage, handwritten lyrics, photographs, and her blue Daphne Fender Stratocaster guitar. READ MORE
Details: Amy: Beyond The Stage runs at The Design Museum until 10th April 2022. Tickets cost £14.50 and can be booked here.
Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It | Natural History Museum
This free display showcases the myriad ways humans have managed to trash the planet, from mowing down down rainforests to feed our sugar addiction, to mining lithium for our phone batteries. Be prepared to walk out feeling like everything you’re wearing, eating and carrying is somehow damaging the environment. But it’s not all doom and gloom – you’ll also see loads of inspirational examples of how scientists around the world are working together to fix our mistakes. READ MORE
Details: Our Broken Planet runs at the Natural History Museum (closest tube station South Kensington) until 18th April 2022. It’s free to visit, but you’ll need to book a timed entry ticket here.
The Natural History Museum’s 57th annual exhibition of photographed fauna boasts 100 incredible images capturing wildlife across the globe. The shots this year emphasise the pressures we’re putting on the natural world, and the steps we need to take to protect it – and also that spiders are creepy AF.
Details: Wildlife Photographer of the Year runs at the Natural History Museum until 5th June 2022. Tickets cost £15.50 and can be booked here.
Fabergé in London | V&A Museum
The Russian goldsmith Carl Fabergé really cracked the world of luxury crafts. His famous eggs are just one part of what he created, and here you can see luxurious cigar boxes, jewellery and trinkets, whose world renown meant the firm were able to open a London branch in 1903.
Details: Fabergé in London runs at the V&A until 8th May 2022. Tickets cost £18 and can be booked here.
Kurdistan in the 1940s | Courtauld Gallery
Some 42,000 prints and negatives taken by the photographer Anthony Kersting were bequeathed to the Courtauld on his death in 2008. You won’t be able to see them all here, but you will find a fascinating collection of images taken on his travels throughout the Middle East in the 1940s and 50s, where he set out to make a record of the buildings and people of the region.
Details: Kurdistan in the 1940s is showing at the Courtauld Gallery until 30th May 2022. Tickets are included in admission to the Courtauld, which costs £9-13 – you can book here.