Art, culture and food are always at the top of my list when planning a weekend away. To help you with your travel plans, here are the exhibitions worth travelling for in 2020.
Cultural Wednesday’s Pick of Exhibitions Worth Travelling For in 2020
Given endless free time and a limitless budget, these are major exhibitions one new museum opening that I would love to see this year. I tried to confine my wishlist to destinations that would work as a weekend break. I confess that some shows are in the USA proved too tempting maybe not for a mini break perfect for a longer cultural holiday.
Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution, Museum of Fine Arts Ghent
2020 is the year of Jan van Ecyk in Ghent. February sees the opening of An Optical Revolution, the most Van Eyck paintings together in the same place ever. Only twenty of his works survive and more then half of them will be on display.
If you can’t get to Ghent before the end of April, don’t fret as the Van Eyck fest goes on all year. The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (a painting you want to see for the title alone), his altarpiece for St Bravo Cathedral, has been restored and away from public gaze for the past few years. It will be on display in An Optical Revolution and then move back into the Cathedral in October when a shiny new visitor centre will open.
If visiting between March and October, then there is still stuff to see. Mat Collishaw has created a digital tribute to Van Eyck that will be on show at St Nicholas Church in Ghent. It is promised to be a blend of art, music and video mapping. I’m a big fan of both Mat Collishaw and Jan van Eyck, so really, really keen to see this.
- Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution
- Museum of Fine Arts Ghent
- 1 February – 30 April
- Lights on Van Eyck: Mat Collishaw
- St Nicholas Church Ghent
- 28 March – 1 November
- Trains to Ghent leave Brussels Centraal or Brussels airport every few minutes, catch a Eurostar to Brussels and change. It takes 35 minutes to get to Ghent.
- Ferries go to Zeebrugge from Hull driving to Ghent takes an hour.or to Calais from Dover
- Getting to Calais can be done by ferry from Dover or via the Eurotunnel from Folkestone, the drive from Ghent is about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Heaven in a Nutshell, Medieval Art for Private Worship St Jan’s Hospital, Bruges
Just down the road from Ghent is Bruges. Bruges is stuffed full of beautiful buildings and stunning museums. My favourite of all of them is St Jan’s or St John’s Hospital. In the autumn they have a show dedicated to tiny intricate works of devotional art designed to be carried around. These miniscule works of art always fascinate me. The perfect excuse to revisit Bruges.
- Heaven in a Nutshell, Medieval Art for Private Worship
- St Jan’s Hospital, Bruges
- 1 October 2020 – 1 February 2021
- Getting to Bruges is the same as for Ghent but adding or subtracting 15 minutes depending on which way you approach from Brussels or the ports.
Fantastic Women: Surreal Worlds – From Meret Oppenheim to Frida Kahlo, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen
Confession: I have never been to Denmark. The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art looks beautiful; it is on the coast 25 miles north of Copenhagen. This summer it plays host to an exhibition showcasing the work of 30 female surrealist artists.
- Fantastic Women: Surreal Worlds – from Meret Oppenheim to Frida Kahlo
- Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
- 18 June – 27 September
- Getting there. First get yourself to Copenhagen. Trains from Copenhagen Central Station to Humlebæk take about 35 minutes and it is then a 10 minute walk from the station.
- Louisiana is closed on Mondays
Christian Louboutin, Exhibition[niste], Palais de la Porte Dorée, Paris
Christian Louboutin is famous is his red soled shoes. Not only will the very best shoes from his closet be on display, there will also be section devoted to the 100 processes involved in making a shoe. Art and industry: my favourite combination.
- Christian Louboutin, Exhibition[niste]
- Palais de la Porte Dorée
- 26 February – 26 July
- Catch metro line 8 to Porte Dorée
- Closed Mondays
- Catching the Eurostar to Paris is my favourite way to travel to Paris
Arc de Triomphe wrapped by Christo and Jean-Claude, Paris
For two weeks at the end of September the Arc de Triomphe is to be wrapped up. Christo and Jean Claude, the husband and wife team behind the wrapping of the Reichstag in Berlin, are to do the same in Paris. More recently they constructed a huge Mastaba that floated on the Serpentine in Hyde Park in the summer of 2018. I loved the Mastaba and am trying to convince Mr CW that we need an autumn jaunt to Paris. The Pompidou Centre is having an exhibition devoted to the pair in Spring but to be honest it is the wrapping that holds attraction for me.
- Arc de Triomphe wrapped
- 19 September – 4 October
Modern Art Museum at Fontevraud Abbey
First things first: I love the Abbey at Fontevraud. It has the graves of Richard the Lionheart and his parents Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor was a childhood heroine of mine. This summer a modern art museum is to open on the site following the donation of over 1,000 works of art by Martine and Léon Cligman. Their collection, including works by Corot, Dubuffet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Derain and Delaunay, will be on show. Even better the new hotel at the Abbey gives guests access to the Abbey all night long and has a Michelin starred restaurant. Art, Eleanor and Food …. this is possibly my dream destination.
- Fontevraud Abbey overlooks the Loire, the best way to get there is probably to drive.
- Museum is expected to open in June but no date yet
Boom: 500 years of industrial heritage in Saxony
Zwickau is where Audi cars were first made. During the days of East and West Germany, Audi relocated to Bavaria and Zwickau became the home of the Trabant. The whole area around Zwickau has been home to industry for centuries. This summer Boom will celebrate the Textile, Car, Coal, Machinery, Railway and Silver industries at six different exhibition sites spread over the area with one big show pulling all the strands together at the Audi Bau in Zwickau. As a former business and economics journalist I love an industrial museum.
- Boom: 500 years of Industrial Heritage in Saxony
- Various sites including Zwickau, Chemnitz, Crimmitschau, Freiberg and Erzgebirge
- 25th April – 1st November
- We drove to Saxony but it took a loooong time, flying to Dresden and driving down takes less time.
- Whilst in Saxony we stayed in Colditz Castle.
Raphael, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome
Raffaello Sanzio died 500 years ago. We know him better as Raphael. The Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome is gathering together over 100 paintings by Raphael along with another 100 by contemporaries and those inspired by him. As Raphael was only 37 when he died, that’s quite an impressive output. If you can’t get to Rome then the National Gallery in London is to have an exhibition devoted to him in the Autumn, but the Roman one is the big one.
- Scuderie del Quirinale
- 5 March – 14 June 2020
- We flew to Rome but I would love to catch the sleeper train.
- We stayed in the Landmark Trust Keats and Shelley apartment
Fun Fact: The Netherlands has a higher density of museums than any other country. Here are the Dutch shows that I would most like to see this year.
George Stubbs – The Man, The Horse, The Obsession, Mauritshuis, The Hague
OK so Stubbs is a quintessentially English painter. AND this exhibition has already been on show at the Milton Keynes Gallery. BUT I didn’t manage to catch a train to the very fine MK Gallery. Stubbs is THE best painter of horses. His images are beautiful. To see a room full of them must be stunning.
- George Stubbs – The Man, The Horse, The Obsession
- Mauritshuis, The Hague
- 20 February – 1 June
- Ferries go to the Hook of Holland just down the road from Harwich.
- Frequent direct trains go from Amsterdam Centraal and Schiphol
Slavery, an exhibition, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The Dutch Golden Age produced many beautiful paintings and buildings but it was also an era of war, forced labour, and human trafficking. This Autumn the Rijksmuseum aims to look at the less palatable side of the society that fuelled the tulip boom and great artists like Rembrandt.
- Slavery, an exhibition, 25 September – 17 January 2021
- Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
- Eurostar from London to Amsterdam takes just under 5 hours
- Ferries sail from Newcastle to Amsterdam
In the Light of Cuyp, Dordrechts Museum
Aelbert Cuyp was born 400 years ago. In his day, he was famous in Dordrecht but in the 18th century British artists and collectors discovered him. This exhibition gathers together not only work by Cuyp but also those who he inspired, Gainsborough, Constable and Turner.
- In the Light of Cuyp: Gainsborough, Constable and Turner
- Dordrechts Museum, Dordrecht
- 27 September – 14 March
- Trains go direct to Dordrecht from Amsterdam Schiphol the journey takes 1 hour 10 minutes.
- Ferries go to Hook of Holland from Harwich, trains leave from right next to the ferry and take an hour, driving would take you 45 minutes.
Every year we head to Northern Norway to ski, every year we say we must actually visit Oslo one day. The new Munch museum makes Oslo even more tempting.
Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch at Munch Museum, Oslo
This summer a brand new Munch Museum is opening in Oslo in a building made of materials that can be recycled and covered in translucent, perforated aluminium. It will be home to the largest collection of Munch works in the world. Tracey Emin has created a vast statue that will stand outside the museum. Not only that, the new museum’s first exhibition will feature Tracey Emin’s fascination with Munch who is her art hero. If you don’t make it to Oslo the show will be coming the Royal Academy in London in the Autumn.
- Tracey Emin / Edvard Munch
- Munch Museum, Oslo
- Dates to be announced
- Frequent trains run from Oslo Gardermoen airport to central Oslo
Lakes and mountains are what spring to mind when a jaunt to Switzerland is considered but there are many fine galleries. Zurich may be home to bankers but it was also the birthplace of Dada.
Smoke and Mirrors: the Roaring Twenties, Kunsthaus Zürich
Smoke and Mirrors: The Roaring Twenties looks at the swirl of artistic innovation that occurred in the 1920s. As Europe recovered from war and made up new ways of living now that the old monarchies and empires had fallen, innovation in art boomed. If you miss this exhibition in Zurich then you can catch at the Guggenheim in Bilbao from November.
- Smoke and Mirrors: The Roaring Twenties
- Kunsthaus Zürich, 24 April – 19 July
- Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, November 27 2020- April 4 2021
- Flights to Zürich from London take just under 2 hours
- Train to Zürich from London takes 7 hours.
- Brittany Ferries sail from Portsmouth to Bilbao
- Flights to both Bilbao and nearby Santander from the UK
United States OF AMERICA
I know, I know America is long way to go. I concede that I was going to keep this list purely European but these three exhibitions are very tempting.
Making the Met 1870 – 2020, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Happy Birthday to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 150 years old. To celebrate, the Met is staging this immersive exhibition that will take you from the beginnings of the collection to how it is now, letting you get up close and personal with iconic objects from the collection.
- Making the Met 1870 – 2020
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue, New York
- 30 March – 2 August
Niki de Saint Palle, Museum of Modern Art, New York
We first came across Niki de Saint Phalle sculptures as we cycled round Lake Constance. They are curvaceous, colourful and fun and make me smile every time. If you can’t get to New York, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield also has a Niki de Saint Phalle show on from May to September.
- Niki de Saint Phalle
- Museum of Modern Art, New York
- 5 April – 7 September
- Niki de Saint Phalle, Joy of Living
- Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield
- 2 May – 6 September
- Trains from London Kings Cross to Wakefield take just over 2 hours
Diego Rivera’s America, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
I first saw a Diego Rivera painting at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Not only do they have a fine collection of their own, the city is also home to some stunning murals by him. I can’t think of a better place to see an exhibition devoted to Diego Rivera in America.
- Diego Rivera’s America
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- 24 October 2020 – 31 January 2021
Well those are my exhibitions worth travelling for in 2020. Where would you like to go for cultural weekend away?
If you are in London check out Cultural Wednesday’s Best London Exhibitions.