Guide to Best London Exhibitions 2022

Let me guide you through the best London exhibitions 2022. Having said that London’s galleries are having a bit of an Omicron wobble, before you head off anywhere check the website to see if the museum is open. 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

Not ready to head back inside yet? Take a look at my Guide to Alfresco Art

Table of Contents

Best London Exhibitions 2022

Barbican Art Gallery

Shilpa Gupta: sun at Night 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 until 23 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 until 20 February 2022

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.

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

British Museum

Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything until 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 until 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.

The World of Stonehenge 17 February – 17 July 2022

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.

Charles Dickens Museum

More! Oliver Twist, Dickens and Stories of the City until 13 March 2022

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 
  • Open: Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Adults £9.50 concessions available
  • Art fund card holders free
  • Pre-booked timed ticket essential

Courtauld Gallery

Van Gogh Self Portraits 3 February – 8 May 2022

Van Gogh didn’t need a selfie stick. He painted himself over and over again. The Courtauld celebrates reopening with a show of 15 Van Gogh self portraits. We follow him from his early painting days right up to the end in an asylum.

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

Design Museum

Amy: Beyond the Stage until 10 April

Amy Winehouse continues to fascinate. Amy: Beyond the Stage offers a glimpse of who the woman was behind the performance although is there is plenty of performance too. We see her teenage notebooks (although I shudder with horror at my own teenage notebooks being put on display), so many costumes, her silent guitars and finish with an immersive performance.

Waste Age: What can design do? until 20 February

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.

Designing the Beautiful Game 8 April – 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.

  • Design Museum, High Street Kensington
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (until 9pm Friday and Saturday)
  • Admission: Waste Age: £12.50 Amy: £14.50, Beautiful Game TBA
  • Members free

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty until 18 April 2022

Helen Frankenthaler was one of the leading American abstract artists of the 20th century. Radical beauty explores how she used woodcuts to create colour filled works.

Foundling Museum

Fighting Talk: One Boy’s Journey from Abandonment to Trafalgar until 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
  • Closed for Festive Period will reopen in January
  • 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

The Botanical World of Raymond Booth until 6 February 2022

Raymond Booth is not a name to have you rushing to an exhibition but he should be. Raymond Booth was one of the greatest botanical illustrators of his generation. Along side his paid work he made many beautiful paintings of the exotic plants that he nurtured in his own greenhouses and gardens, this is the botanical world that is one show at the Garden Museum. Plants grown and drawn with immense love and care.

  • Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7LB
  • Closed for until January 10
  • Open: Daily 10.30am – 5pm
  • Admission: £12 concessions available, Art Fund card half price

Hayward Gallery

Louise Bourgeios: The Woven Child 9 February – 15 May 2022

Louise Bourgeios is known for her giant spider sculptures. Very little is known about her work with textiles, the Hayward Gallery aims to fill that gap. There will still be spiders but also bed linen, handkerchiefs, tapestry, and needlepoint.

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 until 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 Archives

1920s: Beyond the Road opens 21 January 2021

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:
  • Admission: Free

National Gallery

Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist until 27 February 2022

Travel in Renaissance era was hard, expensive and only undertaken by very few people. Dürer was one of the Renaissance’s most acclaimed artists this exhibition looks at his travels across Europe and how new ideas travelled with him.

Kehinde Wiley: The Prelude at the National Gallery until 18 April 2022

Kehinde Wiley takes well known paintings and inserts people from a range of backgrounds into them. The Prelude focuses on European Romanticism with its sweeping depictions of sea and mountains. Think historical landscapes and seascapes by Turner, Claude, Vernet and Friedrich with added colour. 

Gainsborough’s Blue Boy 25 January – 15 May 2022

Back in 1922 the Grosvenor family sold Gainsborough’s Blue Boy to the Huntington Collection in California. Before the Blue Boy set sail for the sunshine state he was put on display at the National Gallery for three weeks. 60,000 people flocked in to say goodbye. Now the Blue Boy is making the return journey for a short holiday. He will once again be in residence at the National Gallery.

Virtual Veronese 7 March – 3 April 2022

Many of the paintings that you see hanging on the walls of galleries would have originally hung in much different surroundings. Using VR headsets Virtual Veronese promises to show us the paintings how they would have first appeared. I love these hi tech National Gallery shows, they always make you think and take a closer look. Best of all they are free but do need to be booked.

Raphael 9 April – 31 July 2022

Raphael not only painted he also dabbled in architecture, archaeology and wrote poetry. Truly a Renaissance man. Raphael will take a look at the work of a man who transformed the way that the world was looked at and depicted.

  • National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN
  • Open: Daily 11am – 6pm (Friday until 9pm)
  • Kehinde Wiley: free, Blue Boy: free, Virtual Veronese: free, Dürer: adults £20
  • Members free and Art Fund members half price.

National Army Museum

Brothers in Arms until 6 May 2021

The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry are an elite Tank Regiment, they finished the Second World War with more battle honours than any other unit. Brothers in Arms tells their story by focusing on eight of the men that fought.

  • National Army Museum, Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HT
  • Closed due to Covid reopen January 5
  • 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!

  • 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

Pitzhanger Manor

Soane Restored until 5 June 2022

Pitzhanger Manor reopened to the public in 2019 after a three year multi million pound restoration. Soane Restored looks at the research and techniques that went into restoring the building to the glorious light filled space that Soane would recognise.

  • 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

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

Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet until 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 until 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.

Francis Bacon: Man and Beast 29 January – 17 April 2022

Whisper it … I am not a big fan of Francis Bacon. I find his work too violent. He specialises in nightmarish, distorted figures. Man and Beast promises to bring together is paintings of men and beast. His last ever work will be on display.

Whistler’s Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan 26 February – 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.

  • Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1J 0BD
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • Hélène Binet: Adults £17
  • Late Constable: Adults £19 – £21
  • Francis Bacon: Adults £22 – £24.50
  • Whistler’s Woman in White Adults £17
  • Booking essential even for members
  • Membersfree, art fund cardholders discount

Saatchi Gallery

Bob Marley One Love Experience 2 February – 18 April 2022

Bob Marley One Love Experience promises an immersive tour of his life. There will be memorabilia, photos and art works. Most of all there will be a brilliant sound track of Bob Marley music. London is the first stop for the One Love Experience on a multi city tour.

  • Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York Square, SW3 4RY
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults £19.80
  • Booking essential

Science Museum

Amazônia until 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.

Stephen Hawking at Work 10 February – 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.

Somerset House

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules until 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.

Hogarth and Europe until 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 until 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
  • Life Between Islands: Adults £15
  • Heather Phillipson free
  • Booking essential even for members
  • Members 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.

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 until 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 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.

Surrealism Beyond Borders 24 February – 29 August 2022

Surrealism is no longer new and no longer a European phenomenon. Surrealism Beyond Borders will display work from all the continents. Prepare to step back and take a sideways look at things.

Two Temple Place

Every Spring Two Temple Place flings open its magnificent doors and puts on a free exhibition housed in one the most spectacular interiors in London. 2022 sees the 10th annual show, I have seen them all and they are always excellent.

Body Vessel Clay 29 January – 24 April

Body Vessel Clay looks at how three generations of Black women have worked with clay. The story starts with Ladi Kawali the Nigerian potter and how she interacted with the British Studio Pottery movement.

  • Two Temple Place, WC2R 3BD
  • 29 January – 24 April
  • Open: daily 10am – 4.30pm
  • Admission: Free

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.

Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution until 8 May

Think Fabargé only made fabulous eggs think again they made exquisite flowers, beautiful teeny tiny jewelled animals, covetable cigarette cases and anything else that the very rich might want at the turn of twentieth century. In 1903 Fabergé opened a London branch bringing Russian style to the UK.

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.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature 12 February 2022 – 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, so I’m hoping for some of those.

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 until 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

A Century of the Artist’s Studio 1920 – 2020 17 February – 29 May 2022

I confess to being a little confused … surely the artists studio is older than 100 years. Anyway the Whitechapel is going to show us a century of Artists Studios. Eighty of them will be show cased with some of the very biggest names in art from the last century. I confess that I am intrigued.

London Exhibitions

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

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.

Kensington Palace

  • 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. 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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