Guide to Best London Exhibitions 2022

Let me guide you through the best London exhibitions 2022. In the new normal, assume that you need to book, even if what you are going to see is free. Click on the blue words to be taken to gallery website

Woman dressed in black standing in front of a multicoloured dot painting by Rana Begum that appears to be out of focus.  Part of Dappled Light at Pitzhanger Manor London
Rana Begum: Dappled Light at Pitzhanger Manor

Table of Contents

Best London Exhibitions 2022

Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945 – 1965 until 26 June 2022

Postwar Modern takes a look at the art produced in the two decades after the Second World War. Old certainties had gone ad hopes for a new world produced art of kind that had never been seen before. 200 paintings show the British artistic community coming to terms with the post atomic world.

British Library

Breaking the News 22 April – 21 August 2022

Where do you get your News from? Is your source truly objective? Indeed can news reporting ever be objective? At what point does the lack of objectivity tip over into propaganda? Is propaganda just the reporting of opinions contrary to your own? All these themes will be explored via news reports from the Great Fire of London onwards. Really looking forward to this!

Gold

50 golden manuscripts. That’s it. How wonderful is this going to be!

  • British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
  • Tickets need to be booked exhibition.
  • Open: Daily 11am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults Breaking the News: £18 gold: £10
  • Members free, Art Pass half price

British Museum

The World of Stonehenge until 17 July 2022

Woodhenge, wood uprights surrounding the upturned tree root of an oak, found on Norfolk coast and displayed at the British Museum
Woodhenge at The World of Stonehenge

Now that Teen One is installed at Exeter University in Cornwall we drive past Stonehenge regularly as we collect, deliver and visit him. The sight of the stones never ceases to awe me. The World of Stonehenge will look at why Stonehenge is where it is, what purpose did it fulfill and also take a look at other henges and menhirs. I am especially looking forward to seeing the wooden seahenge.

Feminine Power: the divine to the demonic 19 May – 25 September

Goddess, Witch, Saint, Harpy, Siren women are depicted in many ways in the world’s religions. Feminine Power takes a look female spiritual beings in global religion. Promises to be completely fascinating.

Edvard Munch. Masterpieces from Bergen 27 May – 4 September

Munch is so much more than the scream. For Masterpieces from Bergen 18 Munch paintings have made the journey from the KODE museum in Bergen. Originally the paintings were bought by Rasmus Meyer, a Norwegian industrialist, during Munch’s lifetime. It is the first time the collection has travelled outside Norway.

  • Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, WC2R 0RN
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adult £16 (weekends £18

Design Museum

Designing the Beautiful Game until 29 August

If you had asked me if football featured a lot of design I would have probably said no. Turns out I’m wrong. Lots of design know how goes into making the beautiful game beautiful.

Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR until 16 October

Type ASMR into Instagram search and you will be rewarded with all manner of calming happy things. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is when a feeling of euphoria or deep calm is triggered by sound, touch or movement. ASMR is huge online. The Design Museum is bringing it out into the gallery. Calm is what we all need now.

  • Design Museum, High Street Kensington
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (until 9pm Friday and Saturday)
  • Admission: ASMR: Adults from £9.50, Football from £16.80
  • Members free

Reframed: The Woman in the Window until 4 September 2022

Expect lots of artworks featuring Women by windows. Rembrandt, Rossetti, David Hockney, Louise Bourgeois, Cindy Sherman and Rachael Whiteread will all feature. Some of the women are depicted in a compassionate manner and others in a voyeuristic way.

Fashion and Textile Museum

150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk until 4 September 2022

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this exhibition. I love textiles and especially embroidery. Even better the Royal School of Needlework was founded not only to protect the craft of hand embroidery but also to support women’s independence through work. In both it has succeeded well with alumni from the School producing work that features on the most haute of the couture catwalks and on Royal wedding dresses. This will be a treat.

  • Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF
  • Open: Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
  • Admission: £12.65, Art card holders half price
  • Pre-booking recommended

Foundling Museum

Superheroes, Orphans and Origins: 125 Years in Comics until 28 August

Superman, Spiderman and Batman are all orphans as well as superheroes. Superheroes, Orphans and Origins looks at qualities of resistance and courage that are shared both by the fictional orphans and their real life counterparts.

  • Foundling Hospital,40 Brunswick Square WC1N 1AZ
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Included in £10.50 museum entry
  • Pre-booking essential
  • Art Fund members half price

Francis Crick Institute

Outwitting Cancer until 15 July 2022

Outwitting Cancer at the Francis Crick Centre makes you think.  It takes a look at the amazing research that is being done at the Crick Institute to combat cancer.  There are a series of short films where a lay person talks to a scientist and an incredible artwork that projects microscopic images onto a textured surface.  As you leave the building look up around the atrium and see the scientists hard at work coming up with more ideas to outwit cancer.  Best of all the exhibition is free and just opposite the side entrance of St Pancras station.

  • Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road, NW1 1AT
  • Closed due to reopen in early 2022 but available online
  • Open: Wednesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm (until 8pm on Wednesdays)
  • Admission: Free but pre-booking is essential

Garden Museum

Wild and Cultivated: Fashioning the Rose until 19 June 2022

Who loves a flower sprigged frock? Me for one, especially if the flowers are blousy roses. Wild and Cultivated looks at the links between roses and fashion from the Victorians to now featuring Alexander McQueen and Philip Treacy.

Louise Bourgeios: The Woven Child until 15 May 2022

Louise Bourgeois Spider and cage sculpture at the Hayward Gallery
Louise Bourgeois Spider

Louise Bourgeios is known for her giant spider sculptures. She got her spider inspiration from her childhood as her parents were tapestry restorers. Spiders and weaving are intimately intertwined in mythology. In her last two decades she worked almost exclusively with textiles and The Woven Child is dedicated to those works.

Kensington Palace

Life Through a Royal Lens until 30 October

The Royal Family embraced photography almost from the day of its invention. The first image on show in Life Through a Royal Lens is of Prince Albert taken just three years after its invention. On show are family snaps from the Victorian era. Never seen before images of Princess Diana taken by David Bailey and countless other iconic images. A fascinating glimpse into the way that the Royal Family both use and are used by photography. Exhibition is included in the price of Palace admission.

  • Kensington Palace, W8 4PX
  • Open: Wednesday to Sunday: 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults £17 concessions available
  • Members Historic Royal Palaces and Art Fund card holders free
  • Pre-booking essential even for members of Historic Royal Palaces

Kew Gardens

Kew is more than just great gardens and greenhouses there are also galleries within the gardens.

Food Forever 21 May – 18 September

Forever Food is not contained within a building but across the gardens. There will be sculptures and art installations around the gardens exploring Food and our ongoing relationship to its production.

When Flowers Dream 21 May 2022 – 5 March 2023

When Flowers Dream by Pip and Pop promises to be the Instagram sensation of the summer. Expect zingy pastel creations made from sweets.

  • Kew Gardens, TW9 3AE
  • Open: Weekdays 10am – 7pm, Weekends until 8pm
  • Admission: Adult £15
  • Booking advisable
  • Exhibitions included in entrance to the gardens
  • Kew members free

National Archives

1920s: Beyond the Road until 11 June 2022

Now that a century has passed the 1921 census have just been opened up for anyone to look at. 1920s: Beyond the Road is a look at the most interesting nuggets and broad brush facts about every day life in 1921 that the census captured. If you want to search the 1921 census to find out what your grandparents were up to head over to Find My Past where the actual documents have been digitised.

  • The National Archives, Kew, TW9 4DU
  • Open: Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 7pm
  • Admission: Free

Raphael until 31 July 2022

Raphael exhibition National Gallery London
Raphael at the National Gallery

Blockbuster is the only word for this feast. Every room is stunning. Raphael not only painted he also dabbled in architecture, archaeology and wrote poetry. Truly a Renaissance man. All of the many ways that Raphael excelled are on show.

  • National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
  • Open: Daily 11am – 6pm (Friday until 9pm)
  • Raphael: £24
  • Members free and Art Fund members half price.

National Army Museum

Falklands at 40 until 17 June 2022

40 years ago Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Britain responded by sending a Taskforce to evict the invaders. 8,000 miles and 74 days later the Falkland Islands were liberated.

  • National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HT
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10.30am – 3.30pm
  • Admission: Free

National Maritime Museum

Astronomy Photographer of the Year until 7 August 2022

Every year I visit the Astronomy Photographer of the Year and come out determined to a look down a telescope and to get myself to some dark skies to try photograph the stars. I never do. The images on display are always incredible. Maybe this year!

Canaletto’s Venice Revisited from until 25 September 2022

Canaletto painted the canals of Venice like no one else. Canaletto’s Venice Revisited offers the opportunity to see all 24 of his Venetian views gathered together. Ordinarily the works live at Woburn Abbey and form the largest single commission that Canaletto ever received. Woburn is having a bit of work done, so in the meantime the paintings are coming to the National Maritime Museum

  • National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich SE10 9NF
  • Open daily: 10.30am – 4pm
  • Admission: £10
  • Members of the Royal Museums Greenwich free
  • Booking is essential for both the paid exhibition and free museum entry

Natural History Museum

Wildlife Photographer of the Year until 5 June 2022

One hundred of the best photographs taken of wild animals in the past year. Always an absolute treat.

Pitzhanger Manor

Woman dressed in black standing in front of a multicoloured dot painting by Rana Begum that appears to be out of focus. Part of Dappled Light at Pitzhanger Manor London
Rana Begum: Dappled Light at Pitzhanger Manor

Rana Begum: Dappled Light until September 2022

Rana Begum has installed her colourful, light catching, joyful work across Pitzhanger Manor from the gardens to the stairwell. Pitzhanger is the perfect place for her work, Sir John Soane loved to use windows, mirrors and reflection to fill his house with light and I think he would have been delighted Rana Begum’s work.

  • Pitzhanger Manor, Mattock Lane, Ealing W5 5EQ
  • Open: Thursday – Sunday 11am – 7pm
  • Admission: Adults £7.70, under 18 free
  • Ealing residents free on Wednesday and Sunday, Art Pass holders get a discount

Japan: Courts and Culture until 12 March 2023

Did you know that the Royal Collection has one of the most significant collections of Japanese art in the west? No neither did I, but it makes sense. The two Royal families have been exchanging diplomatic gifts for 300 years or so, since the days of James I. Japan: Courts and Culture promises porcelain, samurai armour and embroidery.

  • Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace SW1A 1AA
  • Open: Thursday – Monday 10.00am – 4.45pm
  • Admission: Adults £17
  • Booking essential
  • Have your ticket stamped and it becomes an annual pass

Royal Academy

Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan until 22 May

Whistler’s Woman in White is one of those paintings that you just know. You will have seen it on book covers and in magazines. I confess that I have never given a second thought to who the Woman in White might be. Turns out that she was Joanna Hiffernan and extremely important to Whistler.

Kyōsai: The Isreal Goldman Collection until 19 June

Kawanabe Kyōsai was a 19th century Japanese painter. Known for his ability to combine both traditional and popular art in his work. Many of these paintings have never been seen in public before.

Summer Exhibition 21 June – 21 August 2021

Joy and summer in an exhibition, with work from RA superstars hanging next to work from your next door neighbour. I’ve never missed a summer exhibition since I moved to London.

  • Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Kyōsai: Adults £17
  • Whistler’s Woman in White Adults £17
  • Summer Exhibition: Adults from £20
  • Booking essential even for members
  • Members free, art fund cardholders discount

Vision and Virtuosity 10 June – 19 August

Tiffany’s are celebrating 150 years in London this year. Vision and Virtuosity is their party and we’re all invited. 400 sparkly items from the Tiffany archives will be on show.

  • Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square, SW3 4RY
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Free
  • Booking essential via Tiffany app on iOS or Google Play

Science Museum

Stephen Hawking at Work until 12 June 2022

Stephen Hawking would have been 80 this year, to celebrate the Science Museum is to stage a free exhibition featuring objects from his office. The objects will provide an insight into the way Stephen Hawking worked. On display with be his PhD thesis, his glasses adapted to aid communication and invitation to a time travellers’ party that he hosted. Once the exhibition is finishing in London it is packing up and going on a nationwide tour to include Manchester and York.

Tate Britain

Hew Locke: The Procession until 22 January 2023

Tate Britain’s central Duveen Galleries are populated with a procession of figures created by Hew Locke as the latest Tate Britain commission. He wants us to ‘reflect on the cycles of history, and the ebb and flow of cultures, people and finance and power.’ as we wander around looking at his figures.

Walter Sickert until 18 September

Walter Sickert was friends with Whistler and Degas like them the way that he painted changed the way that painting was done. Theatre and theatrics were what most attracted Sickert. He was an actor before he was an artist, the paintings on show how his style evolved and via his self portraits how he changed too.

Cornelia Parker 19 May – 16 October

I am big fan of Cornelia Parker her work always makes you think and often makes you smile. Embroideries, exploding sheds and flattened objects, what more can you ask from an exhibition.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: Fly in League with the Night November 24 2022 – 26 February 2023

This sweeping retrospective of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s work was disrupted by lockdown, thankfully it is due to return. She is renowned for her portraits of fictitious people. More than seventy works dating from 2003 to now celebrate the whole sweep of her career so far.

  • Tate Britain, Millbank SW1P 4RG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Hew Locke: Free, Sickert £18, Cornelia Parker £16
  • Booking advised
  • Members free, art fund card holders discount

Tate Modern

Yayoi Kusama: Mirror Infinity Rooms until 30 September 2022

Yayoi Kusama Mirror Infinity Rooms are stunning. You step inside what on the outside looks like a plain wooden box into a dark wonderland lit with tiny lights reflected infinitely in mirrors. No real surprise that tickets are completely sold out until September. The Infinity Rooms have already been extended twice and who know they may yet be again if they do, membership of the Tate will get you to the front of the queue.

Lubaina Himid until 5 July 2022

Lubaina Himid trained as the theatre designer, this exhibition promises to take you both backstage and centre stage. Expect to immersed in her Turner prize winning work.

Remedios Varo Triptych, three paintings hanging on a grey wall showing nuns on bicycles, women weaving and a man and woman shown at the Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition at Tate Modern
Remedies Varo Triptych

Surrealism Beyond Borders until 29 August 2022

Surrealism is no longer new and never just a European phenomenon. Surrealism Beyond Borders will display work from all the continents. Prepare to step back and take a sideways look at things. Lobster phones, trains coming out of fireplaces and a really, really long art work that took decades to create.

Tower of London

Superbloom 1 June – 18 September

The Tower of London is celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in floral style. The moat has been landscaped and strewn with seeds. One of the sights that I am most looking forward to seeing this summer. You can look down on the moat for free at anytime but walking through the blooms will be stunning. Tickets can be booked for Superbloom alone or with the Tower too.

  • Tower of London
  • Open: Daily 9am – 9pm
  • Admission: Superbloom only: Adult £12 Plus Tower: Adult £36.50
  • Booking essential

V&A

Mannequins wearing mens clothing with the central figure seen from behind wearing a Jean Paul Gaultier jacket with a troupe l'oeil mans bottom
Fashioning Masculinities at the V&A

Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear until November 6

The V&A does fashion blockbuster exhibitions to perfection and the latest Fashioning Masculinities is no exception. It starts with underwear such as Mr Darcy would have worn and works its splendid way on from there. Via pink lined cloaks, velvet suits and finishing with a ball gown finale all tailored to the male body. Stunning beautiful things.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature until 8 January 2023

The V&A and the National Trust are banding together tell Beatrix Potter’s life story. We will see family photographs, sketch books, manuscripts and artwork from some of her most famous stories. My favourite was The Tailor of Gloucester, on show are not only original illustrations but also the coat that inspired Beatrix to write the book.

Wallace Collection

If I could live in a museum it would be the Wallace Collection, during lockdown they’ve had a bit of spruce up, the chandeliers have been cleaned and a new lick of paint applied. Cultural Wednesday Towers is in sad need of new paint, maybe I could move into the Wallace?

Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts until 16 October 2022

One that needs to be seen to be believed. Hand drawn Disney animation stills hang alongside 18th century French art to reveal surprising connections. I cannot commend this highly enough, both beautiful and full of well I never moments.

Althea McNish: Colour is Mine until 26 June 2022

Althea McNish is a textile artist. Her fabric designs have been used by Liberty, Dior and Conran. Colour is Mine will look at her long and varied career that takes in wallpaper as well.

  • William Morris Gallery, Forest Road, Walthamstow, E17 4PP 
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Free but a £5 donation suggested
  • Booking in advance is advised

A Century of the Artist’s Studio 1920 – 2020 until 5 June 2022

Eighty artists studio’s are on display, either appearing in artworks or photographed or recreated. Some of the very biggest names in art from the last century are here. This is an inspiring show that celebrates the places that creativity takes place. Best of all at the end of the show there are two spaces dubbed The Living Studio crammed with bits and bobs all there, just waiting for you to create your own work of art. These will inevitably fill up with children but hopefully there will be some space for grown ups to let rip with the raffia and scissors.

  • Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel Road E1 7QX
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm (until 9pm on Wednesdays)
  • Admission: Adults £12.95

London Exhibitions in non Traditional Spaces

The Art of Banksy until 22 May 2022

The Art of Banksy promises to be the world’s largest private collection of Banksy works and is on a world tour stopping in Covent Garden for summer 2021. Banksy has taken no part in the exhibition and the organisers revel in calling it “unauthorised”. Whilst you wait for galleries to reopen how about popping along to Chiswell Street to see Banksy’s Rat?

  • The Art of Banksy, 50 Earlham Street, WC2H 9LJ
  • Open: Sunday – Wednesday 10am – 6pm, Thursday – Friday 10am – 9pm, Saturday 9.30am – 7pm
  • Admission: £21.50 Monday – Friday, £24.50 weekend (plus booking fee), concessions available
  • Pre booking essential

Titanic: The Exhibition

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Titanic and the opportunity to see what it would have looked like with life size sets.

  • Titanic: the Exhibition no closing date given
  • Dock X London, Canada Water, Surrey Quays Road, SE16 2XU
  • Open: Wednesday – Monday various times check the website
  • Admission: Standard adult £22.90 but there are lots of add ons if you want

Small is Beautiful: Miniature Art Exhibition until June 30

Small is Beautiful was required reading for my degree course.  Many of the ideas contained in it seem particularly pertinent at the the moment.  Small is Beautiful: Miniature Art Exhibition has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with teeny tiny works of art.  There are over 130 artworks and 80 photos by 30 artists from around the world. 

Whilst I am out and about stopping for refreshment at some of the excellent London Museum Cafés is always a pleasure. Membership or Friendship of most of the galleries and museums will get you into the exhibitions for free as often as you like, take a look at my guide to London Museum Membership for a full run down. Exiting through the gift shop is always a pleasure, indeed I buy most of my presents there, take a look at my guide to London’s Museum Shops. Membership of the Art Fund will get you into many of the special exhibitions for half price.

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