Ultimate Guide to Best London Exhibitions Summer 2024

Discover the top London museum exhibitions for summer 2024. London has some of the best museums in the world and some of the best art exhibitions too. Discover what see and where with my Ultimate Guide to the Best London Exhibitions on now. Stay up to date with the latest cultural highlights in London with this regularly updated post.

British Museum Great Court Guide to Best London Exhibitions
British Museum Great Court

Table of Contents

Best London Art Exhibitions July and August 2024

Purple Hibiscus until 18 August 2024

Ibrahim Mahama has wrapped the brutalist facade of the Barbican with 20 tonnes purple cloth woven by the Tamale people of Ghana. Purple Hibiscus, as the installation is called, also has 200 traditional batakari robes appliquéd on to the cloth. Beautiful.

British Museum

Michelangelo: the last decades until 28 July 2024

Pope Clement summoned Michelangelo to Rome in 1534 to paint the altar wall of the Sistine chapel. It was 25 years since he had created the ceiling to the chapel. The next 30 years saw Michelangelo create extraordinary works. Michelangelo: the last decades looks at his final years with preparatory drawings for the altar wall as well as poems, letters and cartoons.

  • British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1B 3DG
  • Open: Daily 10am -5pm (8.30pm on Friday)
  • Members free and Art Fund discounts
  • Michelangelo £18

Courtauld Gallery

Vanessa Bell: A Pioneer of Modern Art until 6 October 2024

Display highlighting the Courtauld’s own collection of works by Vanessa Bell, looking at her work and legacy.

Roger Mayne: Youth until 1 Sep 2024 

Roger Mayne was a documentary photographer who specialised in taking pictures of young people. Youth is a collection of 60 of his images dating mainly from the 50s ad 60s.

  • Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, WC2R 0RN
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: £13 includes the whole collection
  • Members free, art fund half price

Design Museum

Barbie ®: The Exhibition 5 July 2024 – 23 February 2025

Plastic fantastic. Absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about Barbie. Tickets on sale now and selling fast

Enzo Mari until 8 September 2024

Enzo Mari was one of the 20th centries most significant designers.  Furniture, books, games, calendars, graphic design … he produced them all.  Hans Ulrich Obrist has curated this look back at Enzo Mari’s 60 year career, the things he created and inspired others to make.  

  • Design Museum, High Street Kensington
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (until 9pm Friday and Saturday)
  • Admission: Enzo Mari £18, Barbie £16
  • Members free

Yoshida: Three Generations of Japanese Printmaking until 3 November 2024

As the title implies an exhibition devoted to three generations of the Yoshida family who all created woodcuts. Shows the changes and continuity over two centuries of Japanese printmaking.

Garden Museum

Gardening Bohemia: Bloomsbury Women Outdoors until 25 September 2024

Bloomsbury women didn’t only paint and write books they also created gardens. Gardening Bohemia takes a look at the gardens created at Monk’s House by Virginia Woolf, at Charleston by Vanessa Bell, Garsington Manor by Lady Ottoline Morrell and Sissinghurst by Vita Sackville-West .

  • Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road SE1 7LB
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: £15

Fashion and Textile Museum

The Biba Story, 1964 – 1975 22 until 8 September 2024

Barbara Hulanicki launched a clothes mail order company in 1963 called Biba. The next year she opened up a store that became a cultural phenomenon. Step into the Fashion and Textile Museum to recapture the heady days of 60s London.

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

Francis Crick Institute

Hello Brain! until 3 December 2024

Did you know that there are 10 times for neurons in your brain than there are people on earth?  No I didn’t either until I visited Hello Brain!  Even better knitting is good for your brain.  There are lots of brain facts and the chance to knit and make brain models out of plasticine at this excellent free exhibition. 

  • Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road, NW1 1AT
  • Open: Wednesday – Saturday 10am – 4pm (until 8pm on Wednesday)
  • Admission: Free

Foundling Museum

Polly Braden: Leaving Ukraine until 1 September 2024

Photographic exhibition focusing on the women and children who have been forced to leave Ukraine since the Russian invasion.

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

Gilbert and George Centre

London Pictures until end 2024

Gilbert and George are celebrating a year of their eponymous gallery with the opening of a new exhibition.  London Pictures is their largest ever series of works, 292 in all, with London at their heart.  28 of the 292 will be on show in a show that the duo promise will be “Dickensian in some and ultra-modern in sensibility”. 

Anne Desmet: Kaleidoscope/London until 8 September 2024

Anne Desmet is only the third ever wood print artist to be elected to the Royal Academy.  You can see her beautiful highly detailed work in Kaleidoscope/London at the Guildhall Art Gallery.  I confess that I didn’t know what to expect when I went along and came out with an Anne Desmet print top of my birthday list.  Be sure to visit the incredible Roman Amphitheatre that lies beneath the gallery afterwards.

Hayward Gallery

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere until 1 September 2024

Tavares Strachan celebrates little known explorers and trailblazers in his work. Excellent thought provoking and fun exhibition. There is a big ship floating on the Hayward roof terrace, which is worth the entrance fee alone.

  • Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm (8-m on Saturday)
  • Admission: Adults £18, Southbank members free

Horniman Museum

茶, चाय, Tea, (Chá, Chai, Tea) until 7 July 2024

The Horniman Museum and Tea are inextricably linked. Mr Horniman who founded the museum made his fortune from tea. 茶, चाय, Tea, (Chá, Chai, Tea) looks at the history and importance of tea in general and in relation to the history of the Horseman

Imperial War Museum

Storyteller: Photography by Tim Hetherington  until 29 September 2024

War photography is a dangerous job.  Tim Hetherington was killed whilst covering the Libyan Civil War in 2011.  Storyteller displays not only his photographs but also his films and equipment.  You get to see what lies behind getting the images as well as the images themselves.

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

Kew Gardens

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

Mark Quinn: Light into Life until 29 September

Seventeen large stainless steel sculptures will dot Kew Gardens this summer. Inside the Shirley Sherwood Gallery his paintings, drawings, sculptures and frozen works will be on show.

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

Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography until 6 October 2024

Exactly what is says on the tin. Royal photographs from the 1920s to now. Expect Cecil Beaton, Dorothy Wilding, Annie Leibovitz, Rankin and Antony Armstrong-Jones. Alongside the final pictures will be behind the scenes shots as well.

  • Kings’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace SW1A 1AA
  • Open: Thursday – Monday 10.00am – 4.45pm
  • Admission: Adults £19
  • Booking essential
  • Have your ticket stamped and it becomes an annual pass

Leighton House

Out Shopping: The Dresses of Marion and Maud Sambourne (1880-1910) until 20 October 2024

Just over the park from Leighton House is Sambourne House once home to Linley Sambourne and his wife Marion. Visiting Sambourne House is like stepping into a time machine, it is much as Marion and Linley left it. Marion and her daughter Maud’s clothes have also survived and some are on display at Leighton House. It is an incredible glimpse into a different world. An good day out would be a visit to Leighton House, lunch in its excellent cafe and then a stroll across Holland Park to Sambourne House, where there is one more dress on display.

  • Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ
  • Open: Wednesday – Monday 10am – 5.30pm
  • Admission: £14 Leighton House (£22 both houses)

Read my blog post about Sambourne House

Museum of London Docklands

Fashion City until 7 July 2024

Pogroms caused 200,000 Jews to settle in this country at the turn of the 19th century.  Half of those ended up working in the fashion and textile industries.  Fashion City celebrates the impact they had on the clothes we wear.  From Jewish tailors in the east end, to High Street retailers like Moss Bros and Wallis and high end designers like David Sasson of Belville Sassoon.  Clothes worn by the Royal, rich and famous as well us ordinary folk are on show.  

Discover Degas and Miss La La until 1 September 2024

Fantastic free exhibition that takes Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando by Monet as its starting point. There are circus posters, photos of the real Miss La La, paintings of other circuses and Monet’s sketches for the painting.

The Last Caravaggio until 21 July 2024

In May 1610 Caravaggio was in Naples embarking on a painting of The Martyrdom of St Ursula it was to be his last ever painting before he met his death in murky circumstances. Usually the painting lives in the Gallery d’Italia in Naples but is heading to London for the first time in 20 years for this free exhibition at the National Gallery.

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

National Maritime Museum

Women of the RNLI until 1 December 2024

Celebrate the often overlooked role that women have played in the RNLI

  • National Maritime Museum, Romney Rd, SE10 9NF
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Free

National Portrait Gallery

Six Lives: The Stories of Henry VIII’s Queens until 8th September

Tudor paintings and contemporary photography are deployed to tell the stories of Henry VIII’s Queens. Which one is your favourite?

  • National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE
  • Open: Daily 10.30am – 6pm until 9pm on Friday and Saturday
  • Admission: The Time is Always Now £16, Portraits to Dream In £8.50
  • Members free, Art Fund half price

Natural History Museum

Birds: Brilliant and Bizarre until 5 January 2024

Birds are dinosaurs.  These words greet you as you enter Birds: Brilliant and Bizarre. What follows is the fascinating tale of how birds/dinosaurs have changed over the millennia in response to environmental factors.  The Natural History Museum’s extensive collection of stuffed birds is excellently deployed and the exhibition is information dense.  At the end there is a soothing video installation to watch whilst you process everything you’ve seen and read.

  • Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: £16.50 includes museum entry

Pitzhanger Manor

Grayson Perry: The Vanity of Small Differences 10 July – 8 December 2024

Grayson Perry’s inspiration for his six The Vanity of Small Differences tapestries was Hogarth’s The Rakes Progress. It will be especially exciting to see them hanging in the house for which Hogarth’s series was commissioned and hung.

  • Pitzhanger Manor, Mattock Lane, Ealing W5 5EQ
  • Open: Thursday – Sunday 11am – 7pm
  • Admission: Adults £13.20, under 18 free
  • Ealing residents free on Wednesday and Sunday morning, Art Pass holders get a discount

Postal Museum

Dressed to Deliver until September 2024

Uniforms worn by Posties have worn from the Victorians right up to the present day. 

  • Postal Museum, 15 – 20 Phoenix Place, WC1X 0DA
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: included in museum admission £16

Royal Academy 

Summer Exhibition until 18 August 2024

255th edition of the world’s largest open submission exhibition. Always a delight. Some things you will love, others wander why they’ve been given wall space. Even better you can buy most things and proceeds go the running of the Royal Academy Art School.

In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s until 13 October 2024

At the beginning of the 20th century Ukraine was struggling for independence from Russia (not much changes). Ukrainian artists responded to the struggle with vibrant new modernist art. Now seems exactly the right time to see this exhibition.

  • Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Angelica Kauffman £17, Summer Exhibition £22, In the Eye of the Storm £17
  • Members free, art fund cardholders discount

Saatchi Gallery

Beyond Fashion until 8 September 2024

How fashion photography has gone beyond the simple representation of things that we might want to buy into art and reflections of our lives.

  • Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, SW3 4RY
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Beyond Fashion £12

Dementia Journeys until 22 July 2024

Dementia is the most common cause of death in the UK. Dementia Journeys looks at the lives of those affected, both sufferers and carers and the vastly unequal care available.  Powerful photography and interesting interactive elements make for a thought provoking exhibition.  

  • Science Gallery London, Great Maze Pond SE1 9GU
  • Open: Wednesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
  • Admission: Free

Yinka Shonibare CBE: Suspended States until 1 September 2024

Colonial era statues scaled down and clothed in Dutch Wax print. A room full of exquisite models of buildings used as sanctuary, papered in Dutch Wax print and a whole library of books entitled with the names of war. Unmissable and free.

Serpentine Summer Pavilion until 27 October

Every year the Serpentine Gallery invites an international architect who has yet to have a permanent structure built in London to create a temporary summer pavilion. This summer Minsuk Cho, Mass Studies from Korea have created the structure. It will be there all summer long with a cafe inside. I will be visiting on repeat.

  • Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Free

Firelei Báez: Sueño de la Madrugada (A Midnight’s Dream) until 8 September 2024

Fantasical, dreamlike installation and paintings inspired by Afro-Caribbean myth and folklore. Fabulous and free.

  • South London Gallery, 65–67 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm (9pm on Wednesdays)
  • Admission: Free

Strawberry Hill House

Two masterpieces by Jan van Huysum until 8 September 2024

Jan van Huysum painted flowers. Vast quantities of them spilling out of vases. I always enjoy looking at the tiny details he captured. In these two we are invited to look for the butterfly.

  • Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave Road, TW1 4ST
  • Open: Saturday – Wednesday 11am – 4pm
  • Admission: Adult £14.50, members and Art Fund card free

Studio Voltaire

Beryl Cook/Tom of Finland until 25 August 2024

Beryl Cook’s larger than life women were very popular when I was growing up.  Strangely it was her popularity that means we haven’t seen her work for a long time.  Studio Voltaire has an excellent exhibition pairing Beryl with Tom of Finland whose work I also admire.  Although I confess that his more explicit works had not come to my attention before.  Tom drew gay men, his look influenced Freddie Mercury, Jean Paul Gaultier and the Village People.

  • Studio Voltaire, 1A Nelsons Row SW4 7JR
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Free

Tate Britain

Sargent and Fashion until 7 July 2024

Simply wonderful. In my dreams I am the kind of woman that Sargent would have painted. Those frocks would have been mine.

Now You See Us: Women Artists in Britain 1520 – 1920 until 13 October 2024

Angelica Kaufmann to the Vanessa Bell and 148 others in between. An excellent look at women who have been professional artists over four hundred years.

Alvaro Barrington until 26 January 2025

Every year Tate Britain’s central Duveen galleries are filled with a new installation. This year Alvaro Barrington has filled it with benches, drums, corrugated tin and a kiosk with opening and closing shutters. Go and see it, sit on the benches and play the drums.

  • Tate Britain, Millbank SW1P 4RG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Sargent £22, Now You See Us £20, Alvaro Barrington, Free
  • Members free, art fund card holders discount

Tate Modern

Yoko Ono: Music of the Mind until 1 September 2024

Yoko Ono has been creating participatory art since way before Marina Abramovich. So much more than a pop star’s widow Yoko Ono is a trail blazing artist.

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and the Blue Rider until 20 October 2024

A complete treat. Kandinsky is among my favourite artists. Usually you have to travel to Munich or Chemnitz to see this many Expressionist works gathered together. Worth getting membership of the Tate to visit on repeat.

Anthony McCall: Solid Light until 27 April 2025

Hard to explain. Essentially you are in a dark, fine mist filled room. Beams of light shine about the room and as you move, you make the light move. Excellent.

  • Tate Modern, Bankside SE1 9TG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Yoko Ono £22, Expressionists £22, Solid Light £14
  • Members free

V&A

Tropical Modernism: Architecture and Independence 22 September 2024

Tropical Modernism was born in West Africa in the wake of independence. Modern architecture suited to the climate. It soon spread becoming a symbol both of modernity and independence.

Fragile Beauty: Photographs from the Sir Elton John and David Furnish Collection until 5 January 2025

Sir Elton John and David Furnish have amassed an impressive collection of photography. Fragile Beauty will showcase over 300 rare prints made since 1950, many seen in public for the first time.

NAOMI In Fashion until 6 April 2025

Not just a look at the clothes worn by and photographs taken of Naomi Campbell but at her whole career. Her activism and all round cultural impact. Tickets on sale now.

  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.45pm until 10pm on Fridays
  • Admission: DIVA £20, Chanel sold out, Tropical Modernism £14, Naomi £16
  • Members free 

Wallace Collection

Ranjit Singh: Sikh, Warrior, King  until 20 October 2024

Maharaja Ranjit Singh founded the Sikh Empire.  HIs dominance bought huge change to the Punjab region.  His son was deposed and ended up living just outside Thetford on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. 

  • Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square W1U 3BN
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Ranjit Singh £16

Jason and the Adventure of 254 until 12 January 2025

Showcasing Jason Wilsher-Mills and his work exploring his experience of becoming disabled as a child.

  • Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road NW1 2BE
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm, until 8pm on Thursday
  • Admission: Free

Andrew Pierre Hart: Bio-Data Flows and Other Rhythms – A Local Story until 7 Jul 2024

A new commission drawing that will feature a site-specific mural, six new oil paintings, a bamboo sculpture and a film shot in the streets around Whitechapel.

  • Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St E1 7QX
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm, until 9pm on Thursday
  • Admission: Bio-Data Flows Free

Young V&A

Japan: Myths to Manga until 11 August 2024

I confess that Manga is beyond me but I do love a myth.  Japan: Myths to Manga manages to combine the two.  It shows how Japanese myths have helped shape not only Manga but also Japanese fashion and technology in ways that both children and their adults will find interesting and engaging.  Really interesting exhibition that doesn’t dumb down.

  • Young V&A, Cambridge Heath Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PA
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.45pm
  • Admission: £10

Immersive Art Exhibitions in London

Just standing and looking at picture is sometimes not enough. Being able to walk through the landscape of familiar works of art or even interact with them is increasingly popular.

Moonwalkers at the Lightroom until 13 October 2024

Tom Hanks narrates the story of manned flight to the moon both past and present. Just awe inspiring. I stayed up late into the night to watch the Apollo launches, landings and reentry. Even more incredible when on vast colour screens rather than a tiny black and white tv.

  • Moonwalkers
  • Lightroom, 12 Lewis Cubitt Square, N1C 4DY
  • Open: Sunday – Wednesday 9.45am – 9pm, Thursday – Saturday 9.45am – 10.30pm
  • Admission: Flexible pricing ranging from £25 – £35 depending on the date and time

Frameless

For me Frameless is the best immersive art experience in London. There are five vast rooms each exploring a different art genre. The sound system in each is fantastic. My favourite room is the Impressionists where you get to virtually kick dots of colour like autumn leaves. When you’ve explored all five rooms there is really nice bar/cafe to relax in afterwards.

  • Frameless, 6 Marble Arch W1H 7AP
  • Open: Sunday – Thursday 10am – 8pm, Friday and Saturday 10am – 10pm
  • Admission: Adult £25

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. Should you fancy a visit to a famous house, I have a handy guide to London’s Historic Houses.

Follow:
Share:

Share your thoughts

Substack sign up