Exhibitions Worth Travelling for in 2020

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.

Exhibitions worth travelling for

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.


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. The lovely Erin from Oregon Girl Around the World has written all about the Louisiana.

  • 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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Well those are my exhibitions worth travelling for in 2020. Where would you like to go for cultural weekend away?

Exhibitions worth travelling for #culturaltravel #artsandculture #travelideas

If you are in London check out Cultural Wednesday’s Best London Exhibitions.



  1. January 9, 2020 / 9:36 am

    Oh, thank you for this amazing list! I do find a reason to visit the Rijksmuseum every few years or so and I do have Ghent on my list as I am very curious about all the Van Eyk exhibits!

    • Catherine
      January 9, 2020 / 9:45 am

      I’ve wanted to visit Ghent for some time, so now seems the perfect time

  2. Trish Burgess
    January 9, 2020 / 1:53 pm

    I’d love to go back to Copenhagen and this time visit the Louisiana Museum. We didn’t go on our last visit and I’ve always regretted it. #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      January 9, 2020 / 2:18 pm

      It looks the perfect setting for a museum

    • January 26, 2020 / 3:27 pm

      It’s a fantastisk museum! Definitely worth the trip back to Denmark Trish!

      • Catherine
        January 26, 2020 / 4:14 pm

        We need a group outing

  3. January 9, 2020 / 3:18 pm

    Thanks for sharing this list, I love the sound of the Arc de Triomphe being wrapped up, by Christo and Jean Claude. I think it would be incredible #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      January 9, 2020 / 3:28 pm

      Same here, I just loved seeing the Mastaba in London. Somehow even more special as it is only for a few days

  4. January 9, 2020 / 5:23 pm

    I am unlikely to get to any of these, but what a wonderful collection of exhibitions! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      January 9, 2020 / 5:38 pm

      We can always travel in our dreams

  5. January 9, 2020 / 10:15 pm

    Oh wow – you have a busy year ahead 😉 I love the sound of the louboutin one and the Fontevraud Abbey place – maybe we need to do another French roadtrip! Thanks for collating this. #farawayflies

    • Catherine
      January 9, 2020 / 10:24 pm

      Sadly I don’t think I will be able to visit all these but I will definitely visit Fontevraud at some point

  6. January 10, 2020 / 3:41 am

    I would love to visit the Louboutin exhibition! Might be time to plan a trip to France..

    • Catherine
      January 10, 2020 / 7:56 am

      So many tempting things in Paris this year

  7. January 10, 2020 / 7:13 pm

    I can’t help but think: how long did it take you to research this list? Great work, really! I teach primary school kids about slavery, so the Rijksmuseum exhibition is the stand-out entry on this list. Calendar duly marked! Thanks for this precious information. #CulturedKids

  8. Clare Thomson
    January 10, 2020 / 7:35 pm

    I’m tempted by lots of these. I’m usually drawn to the art exhibitions first but the one that really stands out for me here is the Louboutin in Paris and it would be nice to go back to Porte Dorée – I worked in a school there as part of my year abroad at university. Thanks for inspiring me again on #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      January 13, 2020 / 11:05 am

      Sounds like the Louboutin is calling you

  9. January 10, 2020 / 10:54 pm

    YIkes, I can’t keep up with London exhibitions let alone Europe and the US. But I’m already tempted – I think my top pick has to be Christo’s Arc de Triomphe. Smoke and Mirrors sounds interesting too!

    • Catherine
      January 13, 2020 / 11:05 am

      Christo is really tempting

    • Catherine
      January 13, 2020 / 11:04 am

      It looks like just the perfect location for a museum, one more reason to visit Denmark!

  10. January 12, 2020 / 7:56 pm

    What an amazing collection of places to visit. I would love to see the exhibition in Ghent. Thanks for the inspiration #culturedkids

  11. January 17, 2020 / 8:32 pm

    Travelling around for exhibitions is a dream. Such a fabulous collection to exhibition!

  12. January 17, 2020 / 10:50 pm

    Oh you are making me want to go back to some of these places and re-visit. We especially enjoyed Ghent, so that is the perfect excuse to return, thanks for a great article.

  13. Empty Nesters Hit The Road
    January 17, 2020 / 11:00 pm

    I am tempted by all of these great exhibits, but since I live in the U.S., maybe I’ll try and get to New York or San Francisco this year!

  14. Sage Scott
    January 19, 2020 / 1:17 am

    These are my kind of travel experiences. If only I could just spend all of 2020 wandering Europe and visiting these amazing exhibits!

  15. January 21, 2020 / 8:42 pm

    Hopeful to make it to Ghent, Bruges and of course back to Paris – what a round up, thank you Catherine 🙏

  16. January 22, 2020 / 2:52 pm

    My daughter and I are desperate to go to NYC again and seeing as the Met is 150 year old it would seem rude not to … #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      January 22, 2020 / 2:56 pm

      Only polite to say Happy Birthday

  17. January 23, 2020 / 7:00 pm

    Come to Copenhagen, she said! The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is one of my favorites in the wide, wide world. And I did NOT know that some Frida Kahlo’s were coming – one of my favorite artists! So excited. I can also highly recommend seeing the Munch’s in Oslo – besides his famous Scream, there are many other lovely pieces. I would also love to see the Diego Rivera exhibit, sad that it starts after summer when we are planning to spend time in SF! Great list. Cheers from Denmark, Erin

    • Catherine
      January 26, 2020 / 3:26 pm

      I left it too late to organise seeing the Diego Rivera murals in SF but if you start planning now you could see those

      • January 26, 2020 / 3:30 pm

        Good call! I’ve seen his work in Mexico City at the National Palace and in Detroit at the DIA there – should definitely try to see them in SF!

        • Catherine
          January 26, 2020 / 4:14 pm

          Looking forward to seeing the pictures

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