London Exhibitions Autumn 2018

Forget Christmas shopping.  London’s museums and galleries have some excellent shows on offer with which to fill your time.  Museum shops offer many splendid Christmas presents ideas too, so maybe kill two birds with one stone.  Here are the London Exhibitions Autumn 2018 that I have enjoyed or am really, really looking forward to.

COURTAULD IMPRESSIONISTS: FROM MANET TO CEZANNE at the National Gallery until 20 January 2019

The Courtauld Gallery is one of London’s hidden gems.  For the next two years the Courtauld will be undergoing a bit of a facelift.  The stunning collection of impressionist paintings have taken a stroll down The Strand to take up temporary residence in the National Gallery.  If you’ve never been to the Courtauld go along and see what you’ve been missing and if you love the Courtauld take one last glance before the gallery reopens.

  • National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (9pm on Friday)
  • Admission: Free
I OBJECT: IAN HISLOP’S SEARCH FOR DISSENT at the British Museum until 20 January 2019

Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye and panellist on Have I Got News For You has added a curator at the British Museum to his job portfolio.  Well co-curator.  Tom Hockenhull guided Mr Hislop through the vast collection of British Museum and between them they have come up with a selection of objects that show how even under the harshest of regimes people manage to protest.  On show is a brick from the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, built in 580 BC (or there about).  All bricks had to have kings name on them, this brick also has the brickmakers name …. not an act of dissent that was seen until many thousands of year later.  More recent was a Banksy work that the artist placed in the museum, complete with explanatory label, without permission.  It was only noticed when Banksy told the tale on his website.

Banksy British Museum
  • British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.30pm (8.30pm on Friday)
  • Admission: Adult £12, under 16 free, concessions available
MAKING A NEW WORLD at the Imperial War Museum until 31 March 2019

One Hundred Years since the First World War ended is being marked with a trio of thought provoking displays at the Imperial War Museum.  Moments of Silence is series of twelve two minute silences.  You stand in a darkened room listening to the silences.  In one of them a horse sneezes.  I confess that I was in tears when I left.  Just as powerful is I Was There: Room of Voices another listening experience, this time to people talk about their recollections of the moment of the Armistice.  Next door is an exhibition of pictures looking a the ways in which lives and landscapes were rebuilt after the war.  Make sure you check out the weeping Poppy window on your way in.

LADIES OF QUALITY AND DISTINCTION at the Foundling Museum until 20 January 2019

The Foundling Hospital has a very male history, Thomas Coram campaigned  for the hospital whilst William Hogarth and George Frederic Handel were key fundraisers.  There were also many women involved in supporting and running the hospital.  Now to mark 100 years of women’s suffrage the Foundling Museum has put on a show celebrating those women.

  • Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm (11am on Sunday)
  • Admission: £10, children free, concessions available
THE LAST TSAR: BLOOD AND REVOLUTION at the Science Museum until 24 March 2019

Another centenary, this time 100 years since the Romanov family were murdered.  The Science Museum has an extraordinary exhibition looking at the DNA testing that identified the bodies of the Last Tsar and his family.  Genes appear in the tale of the haemophilia that the Tsarevich Alexi suffered from.  Also on display are both the ultra modern medical treatments that the family used and the more unconventional cures that were attempted.  In amidst all this are the final two Faberge Easter eggs that were made for the Imperial family.  Fascinating and free, go if you can.

Last Tsar family
  • Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Free
SPACE SHIFTERS at the Hayward Gallery 26 September 2018 – 6 January 2019

Space Shifters marks the 50th birthday of the Hayward Gallery.  She looks very spruce since her renovation.  20 artists work, spanning 50 years are on display.  What they all have in common that they will mess with your mind. Reflections distort and change reality. One room is full of 200 shiny reflective steel balls, performers walk around hung with mirrors.  There is a room filled to waist height with shiny reflective oil.  You will wonder which way is up but you will leave with a big smile on your face.

Sky Mirror Anish Kapoor
  • Hayward Gallery, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
  • Open
  • Admission: Adults £16.50, under 12 free, concessions available
ELMGREEN & DRAGSET: THIS IS HOW WE BITE OUR TONGUE at the Whitechapel Gallery 27 September 2018 – 13 January 2019

Elmgreen and Dragset tell tales with their art and make you think.  This is How we Bite our Tongue starts with what appears to be an abandoned swimming pool.  Entitled The Whitechapel Pool in points to a loss of faith in public space.  Upstairs we meet a young boy gazing at a rifle called One Day.  This is a mesmerising exhibition but maybe not one to take the children to.

One Day Elmgreen Dragset
  • Whitechapel Art Gallery, 77 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX
  • Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm (9pm on Thursday)
  • Admission: Adults £14.50
OCEANIA at the Royal Academy of Arts until 10 December 2018

Two hundred years ago Captain James Cook set sail and became the first European to encounter Oceania.  To mark the occasion the Royal Academy has gathered together a remarkable collection of art from the region.   Most are old and depictions of Gods, I would have liked more descriptive notices telling not just the name and where from but how the God fitted into the world.  One modern piece is a recreation of seventeenth century wallpaper depicting the adventures of Captain Cook in Oceania, this modern version scrolls along and moves.  It is mesmeric and lasts for an hour.  Watching it is curiously calming.  Meghan chose the preview of Oceania as her first solo royal engagement, why not pop along and see if you like it too?

  • Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (10pm Friday)
  • Admission: Adult £18, under 16 free, concessions available.
MANTEGNA AND BELLINI at the National Gallery  until 27 January 2019

Mantegna and Bellini were giants of the Renaissance painting world.  They were also brothers-in-law.  Both were extremely talented young men, keen to try new techniques and push boundaries.  This fascinating exhibition hangs their work next door to each other and so you can see the artistic conversation that passed between them.  This is a feast and treat.  Whilst you’re in the National Gallery why not pop down to check out the Courtauld Impressionists.

Queens Mantegna
  • National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (9pm on Friday)
  • Admission: Adults £14 (£16 at weekends) concessions available
REPTON REVEALED at the Museum of Garden History until 3 February 2018

Humphrey Repton was a landscape designer.  If you are a fan of National Trust houses you will doubtless have walked through some of his work.  Sheringham Park is my favourite.  He produced Red Books for prospective clients containing watercolours of how their estates might look.  Twenty-two of this books will be on display at the Museum of Garden History.  My father was a big fan of Repton, our childhood holidays destinations were selected so that we could visit his work, he would have loved this exhibition.

  • Garden Museum, 5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB
  • Open: Sunday – Friday 10.30am – 5pm (Friday 4.30pm)
  • Admission: Adult £10, concessions available
KLIMT AND SCHIELE at the Royal Academy of Arts until 3 February 2019

Yet another centenary, this time 100 years since Gustav Klimt and Egon Scheile died in Vienna.  They were firm friends despite a 30 year age gap.  Both depicted women in a way that considered shocking at the time.

  • Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (10pm Friday)
  • Admission: Adult £16, under 16 free, concessions available.
I AM ASHURBANIPAL: KING OF THE WORLD, KIND OF ASSYRIA at the British Museum until 24 February 2019

As you wonder around the British Museum you come across great winged bulls with human heads or Iamassu.  These mythic creatures fascinate me and I long to know more about the Assyrians.  I am Ashurbanipal promises to to teach me.  In the mean time you can pop to Trafalgar Square where a modern day Iamassu has taken up residence on the fourth plinth.

  • British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.30pm (8.30pm on Friday)
  • Admission: Adult £17, under 16 free, concessions available
EDWARD BURNE JONES: PRE-RAPHAELITE VISIONARY at Tate Britain until 24 February 2019

In my mind I look like one of Edward Bure-Jones’ lush long haired maidens. His depiction of myth and romance appealed to my teenage self and still does.  Now I’m off to try and get that effortless wavy hair and perfect my dreamy stare into the middle distance.

  • Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adult £18, children under 12 free, concessions available
GOOD GRIEF, CHARLIE BROWN Celebrating Snoopy at Somerset House until  3 March 2019

Snoopy another big teenage icon.  My first vacation job was in an hotel and all the student staff wore Snoopy aprons.  To be honest, I don’t think that I ever read the cartoon in a newspaper.  Head down to Somerset House to see the original art work and new works inspired by Snoopy and the gang.

  • Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
  • Open: Saturday – Tuesday 10am – 6pm Wednesday – Friday 11am – 8pm
  • Admission: Adults £14, children under 12 free, concessions available


Favourite things and new things are what draw me to an exhibition.  London Exhibitions Autumn 2018 offers lots of enticing things.  Burne Jones has been a favourite of mine since my teens, my father revered Repton, Snoopy was everywhere in the 70’s, Klimt’s glittering patterned women intrigue me and Assyria is somewhere I want to know more about.  Here are the exhibitions that I am most looking forward to this autumn.

GAINSBOROUGH’S FAMILY ALBUM at the National Portrait Gallery 22 November to 3 February 2019

Thomas Gainsborough is famous for his lush portraits of eighteenth century  nobility.  This exhibition will focus on the drawings and painting that he made of his family and dogs.  I’m looking forward to seeing how he depicts those closest to him.

  • National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (9pm Friday)
  • Admission: Adult £14, children under 12 free, concessions available

So many enticing things on offer in London exhibitions autumn 2018.  Whilst there are a couple of free exhibitions listed here most are paid for.  Membership of the relevant gallery will usually get you in free and ownership of an Art Fund card will get you into most of them of half price.  You will be pleased to learn that I have a lovely London Museum Membership post, if you want to know more.  

What are you most looking forward to seeing?

Once you’ve finished drinking in the treasures I find the tea room beckons, click here for my guide to the Best London Museum Cafés.


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