Guide to Best London Exhibitions 2021 and Museum Reopening

London’s public galleries and museums are open again. Some of them of have reduced opening times. Let me guide you through London Museum Reopening and the best London Exhibitions 2021. Who is open, when and what do they have on show. Assume that you need to book, even if entry is free. Click on the blue words to be taken to the museum booking sites.

If you are not ready to venture back inside museums and galleries yet take a look at my guide to Alfresco Art for outside socially distanced art.

Table of Contents

Best London Exhibitions 2021

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2021
Sir Joshua Reynolds all dressed up for the Royal Academy SummerExhibition 2021

Artangel

Sonic ray Artangel Beam of Light
Sonic Ray by Artangel

Sonic Ray until November 21

London’s only lighthouse is beaming light for first time in 150 years from now until November 21.  Jem Finer with Artangel have created Sonic Ray which sees a laser beam that transmits sound and light from the Trinity Bouy Lighthouse to The Slice of Reality on the other side of the Thames.  You can see the beam from the bank but for the full experience book tickets via Artangel that let you go inside the lighthouse, on a boat across the river and then onboard the Slice of Reality.  Not only is the artwork incredible so are the views of London in the twilight.

  • Trinity Bouy Wharf Lighthouse, 64 Orchard Pl E14 0JW and Slice of Reality, Olympian Way, SE10 0DY
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday disk until late
  • Admission: £7.50 for entry to lighthouse and Slice of Reality or free from the bank
  • Book via the Artangel website

Barbican Art Gallery

Shilpa Gupta until 6 February 2022

Immersive, experimental and free. Shilpa Gupta highlights the fragility of our right of expression while raising questions about censorship and resistance. All this is achieved via 100 metal spikes each speared with a fragment of poetry and each with a microphone above it.

Noguchi 30 September 2021 – 9 January 2022

Isamu Noguchi was a Japanese American sculptor, not that he stuck to sculpture he embraced architecture, dance and design as well. This major retrospective will include all these elements and promised 150 works from made in a huge range of materials.

  • Barbican Art Gallery, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
  • Open: Daily 10am – 7pm
  • Admission: Noguchi £18 concessions available, Art fund cardholders half price

British Library

Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens

Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots were cousins and rivals. They need met each other but their lives were deeply entwined. The British Library deploys its wealth of the sixteenth century documents and books to tell the two women’s stories as seen by those closest to them.

Paddington: The Story of a Bear until 30 October

Paddington the bear from Peru with a fondness for marmalade sandwiches has been around for more than sixty years. Micheal Bond’s Paddington books were my brothers favourites when he was growing up and he was not the only one. Fans of ages will find things to delight them at Paddington: The Story of a Bear.

  • British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
  • Tickets need to be booked exhibition.
  • Open: Daily 11am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults Paddington: £8, Elizabeth and Mary: £16
  • Members go free, Art Pass half price

British Museum

Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything 30 September 2021 – 30 January 2022

Everybody knows Hokusai’s wave but he created so much more than that. The British Museum has in its collection a series of drawings that Hokusai made to illustrate an encyclopaedia “The Great Picture Book of Everything”. For one reason or another the book was never published and the drawings have never been seen in public before. I’m really looking forward to seeing this insight into what was considered interesting in nineteenth century Japan and how Hokusai depicted it.

Peru: a journey in time 1 Nov 2021 – 20 Feb 2022

Peru gained independence on 28 July 1822, to celebrate 200 years the British Museum is putting on a show of treasures from Peru. Life at a high altitude required a special way of life and agriculture from the early Peruvian people, the exhibition looks at how traditions from then persist today. Expect lots of beautiful Inca objects too.

Nero: the man behind the myth until 24 October

We all know about Emperor Nero, he was the one that fiddled whilst Rome burned. Readers of my vintage will remember him from I, Claudius as a beautiful but deeply flawed character. What was the real man like? Nero: the man behind the myth will be the first major Uk exhibition devoted to Nero and promises to answer that question.

  • British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG
  • Reopens 17 May
  • Open: Daily 10am -5pm (8.30pm on Friday)
  • Hokusai: Adults £9 concessions available and children under 16 free
  • Peru: Adults from £15
  • Nero: £25 concessions available and children under 16 free
  • Members go free and there are discounts for Art Fund cardholders
  • Booking is essential for visiting the museum and special exhibitions

Burlington Gardens

Superblue 12 October – 9 January 2022

Those street performers that create giant bubbles always fascinate me. For that reason I cannot wait for what Superblue promises … tree like structures will produce bubbles, that are scented AND you can touch them. Burlington Gardens might sound a familiar address, it is the bottom right hand corner of the new Royal Academy extension.

  • 6 Burlington Gardens, W1S 3ET
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 7pm (until 8pm Friday – Sunday)
  • Admission: Adults £12 (£14.50 at weekends)
  • Booking is essential

Charles Dickens Museum

More! Oliver Twist, Dickens and Stories of the City until 17 October

More! will tell the tale of how Charles Dickens came to create Oliver Twist. Inspiration came from the streets around Doughty Street and Dickens many long walks through the capital.

  • Charles Dickens Museum, 48-49 Doughty Street WC1N 2LX 
  • Reopens 19 May
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Adults £9.50 concessions available
  • Art fund card holders free
  • Pre-booked timed ticket essential

Design Museum

Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street until 24 October

If you had told me a decade ago that I would view wearing trainers with a frock as normal and indeed would do so most days, I would have told you that you were mad. Yet here I am doing just that. Sneakers Unboxed explores how what at school were called plimsolls have morphed into the most fashionable and ubiquitous of shoes.

Waste Age: What can design do? opens 23 October 2021

We live in a throwaway society. That ultra desirable phone in your pocket? Give it a couple of years and you’ll probably be itching to get a new one. What happens to the old one? Those trainers that are no longer quite so white, what happens to them? Waste Age takes a look at how things can be taken and given a new lease of life and how designers can help that happen. As someone who uses her grandmother’s soup spoons and cake tins I look forward the ideas in this show.

  • Design Museum, High Street Kensington
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (until 9pm Friday and Saturday)
  • Admission: Charlotte Perriand £18, Sneakers Unboxed £12.50, Waste Age: £12.50
  • Members go free

Foundling Museum

Fighting Talk: One Boy’s Journey from Abandonment to Trafalgar 15 October – 25 February

George King was child number 18,053 at the Foundling Hospital. Whilst there he learnt to read and write. When he left he was apprenticed to a Confectioner but he ran away and ended up being press ganged into the Navy. He fought at the Battle of Trafalgar and was on board the ship that towed Nelson’s body back to Britain. He ended his days in the Royal Naval Hospital, Greenwich. We know all this because he wrote an autobiography. Fighting Talk explores George’s journey and also the connection between the Foundling Hospital and the armed services.

  • 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 go 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
  • Open: Wednesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm (until 8pm on Wednesdays)
  • Admission: Free but pre-booking is essential

Garden Museum

Elizabeth Blackadder: Favourite Flowers 19 October – 21 November 2021

Say Elizabeth Blackadder and I think of flower paintings. Where better to show her favourite flower paintings than at the Garden Museum. On show will be her drawings of plants and flowers from her garden, she was a passionate plantswoman and loved each plant as it came into bloom.

  • Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7LB
  • Open: Daily 10.30am – 5pm
  • Admission: £12 concessions available, Art Fund card half price

Guildhall Art Gallery

Noël Coward: Art and Style until 23 December

100 years ago Noël Coward had his West End debut at the tender age of 19, the plays and songs that he went on to create had a huge influence on art and culture beyond the stage. This exhibition looks at the glittering world which he inhabited and influenced.

  • Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE
  • Reopening June 2
  • Open: Friday – Sunday 10.30am – 5pm
  • Admission: Free

Hayward Gallery

Samara Scott, Chrysantheums

Mixing It Up: Painting Today until 12 December

What does British Painting Today look like? This is the question that the curators at the Hayward have attempted to answer. They have selected 31 artists who are connected by nothing more than the fact that they are working in the UK today. At times Mixing it Up can feel a bit disjointed but there are moments of joy. My favourites are from Samara Scott who uses household items to create translucent panels of beauty.

  • Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
  • Open: Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 7pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: £12 plus £3 booking fee
  • Pre-booking essential

Imperial War Museum

Generations: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors until 9 January 2022

Many Holocaust survivors came to the UK to live. Generations is a selection of over 50 contemporary photographic portraits showing survivors today and their families.

  • Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road SE1 6HZ
  • Booking essential
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Free

Museum of London

London Making Now until 24 February 2022

London has always been a city of makers. Walk around the City of London and the street names will tell you where the Goldsmiths, shoemakers and bakers lived and worked. Londoners are still creating a huge range of things, London Making Now celebrates their creativity.

  • Museum of London, EC2Y 5HN
  • Open: 11.30am – 3.30pm Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm weekends
  • Admission: Free
  • Booking essential

Museum of London Docklands

London: Port City 22 October 2021-8 May 2022

London is one of the world’s great ports. The docks surrounding the Museum of London Docklands may no longer be busy with shipping but London Gateway continues to thrive. London: Port City celebrates the great engineering feats involved in creating the docks and the lives of those who work in them.

National Gallery

Poussin and the Dance 9 October 2021 – 2 January 2022

Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell is one of my favourite novel series. He got his title from a Poussin painting that hangs in Wallace Collection. Poussin’s paintings are vibrant things that take you into the swirl of celebration around the gods and mortals of mythology. This exhibition brings together Poussin paintings from around the world and also looks at the way that he went about creating his works. Can’t wait for this one and tempted to reread Anthony Powell too.

Bellotto: The Königstein Views until 31 October 2021

Bernardo Bellotto painted the Königstein Castle five times. Not surprising as he was the court painter for August III, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland whose castle it was. Now for the first time in 250 years all five paintings are reunited. I love these Room 1 exhibitions at the National Gallery, they are free and always fascinating.

  • National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
  • Open: Daily 11am – 6pm (Friday until 9pm)
  • Bellotto: free, Poussin: £12, Freud:

National Army Museum

  • National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HT
  • Reopening 19 May
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10.30am – 3.30pm
  • Admission: Free

National Maritime Museum

Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits until 31 October 2021

 Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Royal portraits. 150 portraits of British Royals will be on show tracing the way that the monarchy has used portraits to add lustre to its image.

  • National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich SE10 9NF
  • Museum reopen 17 May
  • Open daily: 10.30am – 4pm
  • Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits from £10
  • Admission: Free
  • Booking is essential for both the paid Tudors and free museum entry

Natural History Museum

Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature until 3 January 2022

Find out how real animals have inspired mythical beasts and legends and celebrate how real life explorers have discovered new plants and animals. Book ahead, this has been postponed from the Spring and looks to be extremely popular.

Pitzhanger Manor

Julian Opie until 24 October 2021

Julian Opie creates instantly recognisable almost graphic works. His latest work will be displayed at Pitzhanger not only in the gallery but also outside in Walpole Park.

  • Pitzhanger Manor, Mattock Lane, Ealing W5 5EQ
  • Reopen 27 May
  • 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

Queens Gallery

Man looking at paintings masterpieces from Buckingham Palace
Masterpieces of Buckingham Palace

Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace until 31 January 2022

Buckingham Palace houses one of the greatest art collections in the world.  The Queen has got the decorators in next year and so the paintings from the Picture Gallery are moving next door to the Queen’s Gallery where we can all see it.  Expect Titian, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Rubens, Jan Steen, Van Dyck and Canaletto among others.

  • Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace SW1A 1AA
  • reopen 17 May
  • Open: Thursday – Monday 10.30pm – 4.45pm
  • Admission: Adults £16
  • Booking essential
  • Have your ticket stamped and it becomes an annual pass

Royal Academy

Summer Exhibition until 2 January 2022

Yes, I know that it is autumn but once again this year the Royal Academy has had to wait until September to stage its Summer Exhibition. I love the eclectic mix of work that is displayed at the Summer Exhibition, there is always something new to marvel at. Always something to let other people love whilst you walk by.

Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet 23 October 2021 — 23 January 2022

If you want an iconic photo taking of your amazing building Hélène Binet is the woman that you call. The Royal Academy has gathered 90 of her photos of some of the most iconic modern buildings in the world. A treat for both architecture and photography fans.

Late Constable 30 October 2021 — 13 February 2022

We all know Constable’s Haywain but in his late career his brushwork became far wilder and produced some stunning paintings of clouds. This exhibition focuses not on his famous chocolate box images but the bolder work of his later years.

  • Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Summer Exhibition: Adults £20
  • Hélène Binet: Adults £17
  • Late Constable: Adults £19 – £21
  • Booking essential even for members
  • Members go free, art fund cardholders discount

Saatchi Gallery

RHS Botanical Art & Photography Show 2021 until 6 October

In this topsy turvy year the Chelsea Flower Show is in autumn, for the first time ever. It isn’t only the growers and garden designers who will be competing for RHS Gold, Silver Gilt, Silver or Bronze medals this year. Botantical Artists and Photographers are also up for awards. You can see all the entrants at the Saatchi Gallery.

  • Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, SW3 4RY
  • Open: Monday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults £5
  • Free to RHS and Saatchi Gallery Members

Science Museum

Amazônia 13 Octoer 2021 – 12 March 2022

Photographer Sebastião Salgado spent six years in the Amazon basin with 12 indigenous communities getting to know them and taking photographs. 150 black and white images are displayed in Amazônia along with a sound track by Jean Michel Jarre that brings into focus everyday life in Amazônia and the challenges and changes that are heading its way.

  • Science Museum, Exhibition Road,SW7 2DD
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adult £10
  • Booking is essential

Somerset House

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules 21 October – 6 March 2022

Rule breakers; Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, Lord Snooty and his Pals, Roger the Dodger and the Bash Street Kids appeared in the Beano magazine. Lifelong Beano fan Andy Holden has curated this exhibition that pulls together a whole host of modern rule breakers and celebrates our comic heroes.

  • Somerset House, Strand WC2R 1LA
  • Open: Saturday, Sunday & Tuesday 10am – 6pm. Wednesday – Friday 11am – 8pm. Closed Mondays except during school holidays when open 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adult £16 with a wide variety of family tickets
  • Booking essential

Tate Britain

Visits to the permanent collection of Tate Britain will need to be booked. Free form wandering round the galleries is not possible, rather three routes have been planned to ensure that distancing is maintained. You can choose from Rothko to Turner, British Art 1540 -1930 and British Art 1930 to now.

Paula Rego until 24th October

There is nothing docile about a Paula Rego painting.  Her work spares no detail in depicting the full physical messiness of being a woman.  Bad things happen and she paints them.  Good, gender things happen and she paints them.  Everything is shown in a way that feels folkloric but never kitch. Paula Rego at Tate Britain lovingly chronicles her career in all its emotional glory.

Hogarth and Europe 3 November 2021 – 20 March 2022

Hogarth’s depictions of London are famous is showed what life was like in the 18th century warts and all. Across Europe other artists were also depicting life as it was lived. Hogarth and Europe brings together the work of Hogarth and his contemporaries in Venice, Paris and Amsterdam. We will be able to see the differences but more important the way that change was flowing through the continent.

Life Between Islands Caribbean-British Art 50s – now 1 December 2021 – 3 April 2022

Life Between the Islands celebrates the work of Caribbean artists who settled in Britain from the the 1950s and also other British artists who address Caribbean themes.

Heather Phillipson: Rupture No 1: Blowtorching the Bitten Peach until 23 January 2022

The stately Duveen Hall at Tate Britain has been transformed into a red cave of unexpected discoveries. Vast papier mâchē creations nestle next to salvaged machines and it all bright bright red. Rupture No 1 is free and features in every route round Tate Britain.

  • Tate Britain, Millbank SW1P 4RG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Hogarth: Adults £18
  • Paula Rego: Adults £18
  • Life Between Islands: Adults £15
  • Heather Phillipson free
  • Booking essential even for members
  • Members go free, art fund card holders discount

Tate Modern

Pitching up and wandering around the Tate Modern collection on a whim is not possible at the moment, you need a pre-booked ticket and to follow a set route round the collection.

The Making of Rodin until 21 November

Rodin is known for his sculptures in bronze and marble, think of The Kiss. Before he started to chip away at the marble or make moulds for his bronzes Rodin would make endless plaster models getting the composition of a piece just right. The Making of Rodin is the first exhibition to focus on Rodin’s work in plaster.

Sophie Taeuber-Arp until 17 October 2021

Sophie Taeuber-Arp was an abstract artist who worked in many different media. Puppets, embroidery, carved sculptures and mysterious Dada objects – she created them all. Not content with that she edited magazines too. Her diverse work is celebrated in wide ranging retrospective.

Yayoi Kusama: Mirror Infinity Rooms until 12 June 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 October. New tickets will be released in September sign up to receive notification of when here. Membership of the Tate will get you to the front of the queue.

Anika Yi 12 October 2021 – 16 January 2022

Ever since it opened the Tate Modern Turbine Hall has been home to some of the most incredible installations. Now it is the turn of Anika Yi, who explores the links between Science and Art in her work. Where better for that exploration in a former Turbine Hall that is now an art gallery?

Lubaina Himid 25 November 2021 – 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.

  • Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Adults £16
  • Making of Rodin: Adults £18
  • Yayoi Kusama: Mirror Infinity Rooms: Free
  • Lubaina Himid: Adults £16
  • Anika Yi: Free
  • Pre-booked timed tickets essential even for members
  • Members go free

Postal Museum

Wish You Were Here: 151 Years of the British Postcard until 2 January 2022

Railways and the postal system lead to the birth of the postcard in 1870. People could get to the new seaside resorts and had the means to send letters home. The rise of the postcard is explored in a new exhibition that is included in Postal Museum entry. Also included is a ride on the Mail Rail, which is the best train ride in a London Museum ever!

  • Postal Museum, WC1X 0DA
  • Reopen: 20 May
  • Open: Thursday – Sunday 10.30am – 5pm Saturday 10.30am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults £16, concessions available, Art Pass holders half price
  • Pre-booking essential

V&A

Whilst we’ve been away the V&A has had a bit of a spring clean and Raphael Cartoon gallery has been spruced up. Opening times will be restricted, no late nights or opening on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Bags: Inside Out until 16 January 2022

The search for the perfect bag is never ending, even if you do find THE perfect one it wears out and you spend decades looking for its clone … just me?  I suspect that the queue for this exhibition devoted to bags in general but handbags in particular will long … book your tickets now.  Even now I am excited about the wonders that the exhibition shop contains.

Alice: Curious and Curiouser until 31 December 2021

No opening date yet for this much delayed exhibition. Alice in Wonderland was one of my favourite books growing up, the worlds and possibilities that it presented were glorious to me. When it eventually opens this show promises to be immersive and theatrical following the way that the book has influenced books, fashion, theatre and film. Can’t wait.

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?

Frans Hals: The Male Portrait until 30 January 2022

The Laughing Cavalier is the probably the most famous painting in the Wallace Collection. He looks at us with a merry glint in his eye, I suspect that he would be great fun to spend an evening with. He wasn’t the only man that Frans Hals painted this exhibition brings together ten of his portraits of men. I’m looking forward to meeting the others and wonder if they will be as much fun as our Cavalier.

William Morris Gallery

Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement 1890 – 1918 9 October 2021 – 30 January 2022

Young Poland was an arts and crafts movement that flourished in Poland at turn of 19th century in response to repeated invasions of the country. Artists sought inspiration from the folk traditions and crafts of country. Furniture, textiles, delicate paper cuts and even Christmas decorations were produced. I’m hoping the shop has tempting things on offer!

  • 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

Whitechapel Gallery

This is the Night Mail until 2 January 2022

Norwegian artist Ida Ekbald has curated This is the Night Mail, her highlights from the Christen Sveaas collection. There will be Munch, Edward Ruscha and Louise Bourgeois. What will draw me will be Harald Sohlberg who painted the landscape of the Rondane national park where the Cultural Wednesday family have returned year after year to cross country ski.

Yoko Ono: MEND PIECE for London until 2 January 2022

Your chance to take part in a work of art. When you enter the room containing two white tables set with broken objects and the means of mending them you are presented with a set of simple instructions from Yoko Ono. Once you have mended your object, you tend place it on a display shelf along with all the other mended objects.

Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon until 9 January 2022

A Clay Sermon takes a look at how Theaster Gates takes what is essentially mud and transforms it into art. Also on show will be the work of other potters. A Clay Serman is just one part of a multi-venue celebration of his work. The Serpentine Pavilion 2022 will be created by Theaster and there will also be The Question of Clay at the V&A.

  • Whitechapel Gallery, 77 – 82 Whitechapel Road E1 7QX
  • Yoko Ono, Theaster Gates and This is the Night Mail: Free
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm

London Art Gallery Exhibitions

The Art of Banksy until 21 November 2021

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

Iconic London Sights reopening

Kensington Palace with statue of Queen Victoria in the foreground
Kensington Palace

OK I confess that I struggled to find a catch all term for the headline. What I mean is that it isn’t only London’s Best exhibitions that are reopening but also much loved places like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London that are also reopening.

Buckingham Palace Gardens

For the first time ever this year you will be able to not only visit the gardens of Buckingham Palace but also to picnic on the lawns.

  • Buckingham Palace Gardens, SW1A 1AA
  • Open: 9 July – 19
    • September Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10am – 4.30pm
  • Admission: Adults 16.50 concessions available

Kensington Palace

Royal Style in the Making until 2 January 2022

Diana Princess of Wales Wedding dress on display at Kensington Palace
Diana, Princess of Wales Wedding Dress

Fabulous frocks are what we expect from Royal women. Royal Style in the Making will look at the relationship between fashion designer and client. Most exciting of all Diana Princess of Wales’s wedding dress will be on display.

  • Kensington Palace, W8 4PX
  • Reopening May 26
  • Open: Wednesday to Sunday: 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults £17 concessions available
  • Members Historic Royal Palaces free and Art Fund card holders
  • Pre-booking essential even for members of Historic Royal Palaces

Hampton Court

Tower of London

Westminster Abbey

  • Westmister Abbey, SW1P 3PA
  • Reopening 21 May
  • Open Monday, Tuesday, Friday 9.30am – 3.30pm and Saturday 9.30am – 3pm
  • Admission: Adult £18 concessions available
  • Pre booking essential

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. All that culturing makes you thirsty just as well that there are some delightful Museum Cafes. Membership of the Art Fund will get you into many of the special exhibitions for half price.

Best London Exhibitions what to see at London Museum's and Art Galleries #London #LondonArt #Exhibitions

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18 Comments

  1. December 14, 2020 / 3:11 pm

    I have recommended your blog, and especially your “to-do lists” to many friends, Catherine. They are such a huge help in screening the myriad of exhibitions and events on offer. Ellie and I had had several of the exhibitions above on our radar, but had been unaware of Sin at the National Gallery, Ai Weiwei at the Imperial War Museum, and Fantastic Beasts at the Natural History Museum. We’ve now put all three of those on our list.

    • Catherine
      Author
      December 14, 2020 / 3:44 pm

      Thank you Stefan, that made my day!

  2. wired2theworld
    May 1, 2021 / 4:00 pm

    Wow! What a comprehensive list! I wish I had a trip planned to London so I could take advantage of all this. It’s been several years since I was last there. I might need a visit. 🙂 Two museums I always go to are the V&A (for the fashion) and the British to see the cat mummies. I think I’d like to try the Postal Museum next time. We have one here in the US, in Washington DC and it was actually fascinating.

  3. May 2, 2021 / 2:03 pm

    What a helpful resource this is! We’ve been to London twice, but haven’t been to any of the museums. In fact, I didn’t realize there were this many museums in London. Would love to visit some when we return. Thanks for sharing!

  4. May 7, 2021 / 12:12 pm

    I really must get to London! What a fabulous list chocked full of delights. It is the V&A I most want to visit though – handbags and Alice! Heaven. #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 11, 2021 / 9:56 am

      I can’t wait to get back inside the V&A it is my happy place

  5. May 9, 2021 / 9:45 pm

    You’re so lucky to have so much to see and do! We went to Canberra for the Bottecelli to Van Gogh exhibition. That was my latest foray…Had seen the Tate Modern was getting two Kusama works. Totally jealous!.#CulturedKids

  6. May 10, 2021 / 8:46 pm

    I am pleased to say I have already booked a couple of these in! I am so excited about London reemerging and what a great set of exhibitions we have to look forward to!

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 11, 2021 / 7:21 am

      So exciting, what have you booked?

  7. May 11, 2021 / 2:06 pm

    SO many places I want to visit. Our summer is sorted! Very happy to be able to plan some exciting museum visits! #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 14, 2021 / 11:25 am

      Who needs to leave London when there is so much going on!

  8. May 12, 2021 / 10:21 am

    How happy are you?! Look at all the options – you’re going to be busy this month! Happy that your cultural institutions are opening doors once more – it’s been sooo nice to step back inside a museum or two here in Copenhagen. #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 12, 2021 / 10:22 am

      So excited, maybe we’ll be able to travel to Copenhagen soon as well

  9. May 12, 2021 / 9:27 pm

    What a list! So. Much. Choice! I am giddy with excitement about museums and galleries reopening next week and this is the perfect overview. I have several booked in already (and managed to see a few before museums closed) but there’s still more from this list I need to make time for. Thanks for joining in with #CulturedKids

    • Catherine
      Author
      May 12, 2021 / 9:29 pm

      I always get excited about new exhibitions … this time I’m hyper!

  10. May 14, 2021 / 1:52 pm

    I just can’t wait for everything to reopen! Shame I didn’t get to bag any infinity room tickets. Let’s hope I get lucky for September #CulturedKids

  11. May 26, 2021 / 9:25 pm

    After famine comes FEAST! There’s almost too much choice, but I’ve been enjoying watching you trying to fit them all in over on social media. My favourite so far has been Zanele Muholi at Tate Modern – beautiful, emotive, compassionate works. Thanks so much for joining in with #CulturedKids

  12. June 10, 2021 / 10:58 am

    London is buzzing once again and we couldn’t be any happier ! Our kids loved Heather Phillipsn’s installation at Tate Britain but Zanele Muholi’s Tate Modern proved too much for 2 X 8 years olds, the grown-ups enjoyed the brutal visual challenging messages though ! We are working slowly our way through this fabulous list Catherine, as always the most fabulous highlights, London #CulturedKids and parents at its best! X

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