London Exhibitions Spring 2019

New year, means new exhibitions. So much to see and do, here is my guide to London Exhibitions Spring 2019. I confess that I get ludicrously excited about new exhibitions, some are about long held favourite topics like Elizabethan Minatures at the National Portrait Gallery, Don McCullin at Tate Britain and luscious Christian Dior at the V&A. Others promise new and interesting things to see and learn like Harold Sohlberg at the Dulwich Picture Gallery and Writing at the British Museum.


We’ll set off with shows that have opened and then move on to the ones that I am really, really excited about seeing when they open. As the shows open, I’ll update.

BILL VIOLA/MICHELANGELO at Royal Academy until 31 March 2019

Bill Viola/Michelangelo at the Royal Academy
Bill Viola/Michelangelo at the Royal Academy

Bill Viola is a contemporary video artist and Michelangelo is the greatest draughtsman ever. I confess that I have never thought ‘Gosh wouldn’t it be great to see video art and Michelangelo drawings side by side’. The Royal Academy has done just that. Twelve of the Queen’s finest Michelangelo drawings have come out of the library at Windsor Castle to hang alongside Viola’s massive video works, they are stunning. Some of the video works are profoundly moving. I found the rooms with just Bill Viola were more powerful than those with both artists. I loved this show, but would have preferred to see Bill Viola and Michelangelo separately. This is a marmite exhibition, you will either love it or hate it. Let me know what you think!

  • Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm, Friday until 10pm
  • Admission: £20, concessions available, Friends go free

RUSKIN: THE POWER OF SEEING at Two Temple Place until April 22

Timorous Beasties lampshade
Timorous Beasties lampshade

Two Temple Place has one of the most stunning interiors in London. Each Spring it hosts a free exhibition and you get a chance to peek inside for free. John Ruskin is the the subject of this year’s exhibition. Ruskin was a Victorian art critic who also painted and had strong views on many things. Most of all he believed in the beauty and power of nature and the importance of looking at and for that beauty. Ruskin has flitted on the sides of my knowledge for decades, this exhibition is a beautiful was of bringing him centre stage. Most of all go to gawp at the amazing stained glass. Take a peek at my post taking you inside Two Temple Place.

  • Two Temple Place, London WC2R 3BD
  • Open: Wednesday 10am – 9pm Thursday – Sunday 10am – 4.30pm
  • Admission: Free

TRACEY EMIN: A FORTNIGHT OF TEARS at White Cube until 7 April 2019

Years of nightshifts for Breakfast TV, followed by baby twins who woke every two hours but not in synch has left me with an erratic sleep pattern. I confess that I either try deep yogic breathing or if that fails reading a good book. Tracey Emin reached for her camera and took a selfie. Fifty of these snaps have been printed on very large canvases and hung at the White Cube Gallery. Also on show are drawings and a massive bronze sculpture all ‘The Mother’ which is a prototype for an even more massive sculpture which will be installed outside the new Edvard Munch Museum in Olso in 2020.

  • White Cube Gallery, 144 – 152 Bermondsey Street SE1 3TQ
  • Open:Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm
  • Admission: Free

RUSSIA, ROYALTY & THE ROMANOVS at Queens Gallery until April 28

Vladimir Tiara
Vladimir tiara – designed for a Russian Grand Duchess, bought by Queen Mary, worn by Diana, Princess of Wales

The links between the Russian and the British royal families go back centuries, this lush exhibition showcases the lavish gifts that have passed between the two families and glitters with diamond tiara’s. Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs actually opened last year but stays open until April. If you get your ticket stamped on the way out it becomes an annual pass letting you visit the gallery as often as you like ….. a word to the wise all the Queen’s Leonardo da Vinci drawings (and that’s a lot) are on show here in May.

  • Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, SW1A 1AA
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.30pm
  • Admission: Adults £11 – don’t forget to have you ticket stamped!

PIERRE BONNARD: THE COLOUR OF MEMORY at Tate Modern until 6 May 2019

We all need a splash of colour at the beginning of the year. Tate Modern has bought the sunshine in with a lush display of Pierre Bonnard. Feast your eyes on the full spectrum of colour before heading out into grey London.

  • Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm, Friday and Saturday until 10pm
  • Admission: Adult £18, concessions available, members go free

BEDROOMS OF LONDON at Foundling Museum until 5 May 2019

Bedrooms of London
700,000 children live below the poverty line in London

Bedrooms of London is not an exploration of the well upholstered bedrooms of the rich and famous but rather the places that homeless families get to sleep. Glamorous this exhibition will not be, moving and thought provoking it will be. Whilst you are there take a look round the Foundling Museum, London’s first public art gallery.

  • Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, WC1N 3AS
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Adults £11

DON McCULLIN at Tate Britain until May 6

Back in the early 80s I went to university in Newcastle and used to visit the Side gallery often. It opened my eyes to photography as an art form. Work by Don McCullin was often on show. Imagine my excitement when the Tate announced that he was to have a whole exhibition devoted to him. Lots of people think about Don McCullin as a war photographer and he had photographed war, but he takes stunning photos of every day life too. Every picture is not just beautiful but tells a story too.

  • Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults £16, concessions available, members go free

DIANE ARBUS: IN THE BEGINNING at Hayward until 6 May 2019

More photographs, this time from Diane Arbus focusing on the first seven years of her career up to 1962. Many of the pictures have never been on show in the UK before.

  • Hayward Gallery, Southbank, SE1
  • Open: Wednesday – Monday 11am – pm
  • Admission: £15.50, members go free

SPARE PARTS: RETHINKING HUMAN REPAIR at Science Gallery until 12 May 2019

Woman wearing giant white spheres on her ears
Who is that woman?

The Science Gallery is new, next door to London Bridge Station and free. Three very good reasons to visit. Best of all is its new exhibition devoted to the blurring of the boundaries between art, science and ethics especially with regard to human repair and alteration. It is a glorious fun, thought provoking exhibition. Expect a beehive harnessed to keep an incubator warm and experiments to see what its like when your world is muffled. Mr CW completely failed to recognise me in this picture and asked if “That Woman knew if you were taking her photo?”. Even better the Science Gallery has an excellent cafe.

  • Science Gallery, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9GU
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: free


When I was a student I had a postcard of Nicolas Hilliard’s ‘Young Man among Roses” on my wall. It remains one of my favourite paintings of all time. I cannot begin to tell you just how very excited I am about this exhibition!

  • National Portrait Gallery, St Martins Place, WC2H 0HE
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm, Friday 9pm
  • Admission: Adults £10, members go free

SWINGING LONDON at Fashion and Textile Museum until 2 June 2019

Swinging London
Mary Quant clothes and Terrence Conran furniture …. groovy man

Swinging London:A Lifestyle Revolution/Terence Conran – Mary Quant, to give the show its full title, promises to look at the design influences across fashion, architecture, design and photography that came together to make London swing in mid twentieth century. 1952 – 1977 is era covered, so that’s my parents falling in love, getting married, setting up home and bringing us up.

  • Fashion and Textile Museum, 85 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3XF
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm, Friday 8pm, Sunday 5pm
  • Admission: Adults £9.90

HAROLD SOHLBERG: PAINTING NORWAY at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 2 June 2019

I know nothing about Harold Sohlberg. I do however know Norway, regular readers will know that we head to Venabu every year to Cross Country Ski. OK, so now I do now about Harold Sohlberg and it turns out that he painted his most famous painting in the Rondane National Park which is you can see from the Venabu Fjell Hotel where we stay when we ski!

  • Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, SE21 7AD
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Adults £16.50, Friends go free

THE RENAISSANCE NUDE at Royal Academy until 2 June 2019

No video art here, instead we are promised a feast of renaissance painting tracing the moment that art switched from flat formulaic representations of the human body and into realism. All the big names are here Leonardo, Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo (again), Dürer and Cranach …. it should be a treat.

  • Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BD
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm, Friday until 10pm
  • Admission: £16, concessions available, Friends go free

HENRY MOORE: THE HELMET HEADS at Wallace Collection until 23 June 2019

The Wallace Collection is one of my favourite galleries anywhere in the world. Henry Moore is one of my mother’s favourite sculptors. Henry Moore spent many hours in the Wallace Collection over several decades, he was particularly inspired by the armour collection. For the first time all six of his Helmet Heads are displayed together and next to the pieces that inspired them. Read my blog post about the Wallace Collection for more about the collection.

  • Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: £12.50

SOROLLA: SPANISH MASTER OF LIGHT at the National Gallery until 7 July 2019

Luminous, light filled paintings from the Spanish Impressionist Joaquin Sorolla. There are tender paintings of his wife and family and dozens dreamy Spanish scenes. One for bringing the sunshine to gloomy winter days.

  • National Gallery, Trafalgar Square WC2N 5DN
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm (Friday 9pm)
  • Admission: £16.50 Members go free

EDVARD MUNCH: LOVE AND ANGST at British Museum until 21 July 2019

The last time I saw Edvard Munch’s the scream it was up for auction at Sotheby’s and there were queues down Bond Street to see it. It is the only occasion on which I have ever witnessed a queue at Sotheby’s. Expect the British Musuem’s exploration of Munch to be extremely popular and book ahead!

  • British Museum, Great Russel Street, WC1B 3DG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.30pm, Friday 8.30pm
  • Admission: Adult £14, members go free

REMBRANT: THINKING ON PAPER at the British Museum until 4 August 2019

Rembrandt Self portrait
Rembrandt selfie

Did you know that the British Museum holds one of the most important collections of drawings and prints by Rembrandt? To mark the 350th anniversary of his death the British Museum has put on a free show of the collection. If you get the chance pop along to the Print Room as these light sensitive works are not often on display. You will be rewarded by exquisite self portraits and tender depictions of Rembrandt’s wife. A treat.

  • British Museum, Great Russel Street, WC1B 3DG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.30pm, Friday 8.30pm
  • Admission: FREE

VAN GOGH & BRITAIN at Tate Britain until 11 August

Did you know that Vincent van Gogh lived in London? No neither did I! Turns out that he did and that he much influenced by the artists that he came across whilst living here. This great exhibition show the artists that van Gogh found inspirational and British artists who have in turn been inspired by him. Fret not. there are enough van Gogh’s to keep you happy including Starry Night and the Sunflowers. Booking is advisable.

  • Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG
  • Open: Daily 10am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adults £22, concessions available, members free.

ANISH KAPOOR at Pitzhanger Manor until 18 August 2019

Feeling reflective

Pitzhanger Manor is celebrated her reopening with a fun reflective Anish Kapoor exhibition. I could not keep the grin off my face as I wandered round transfixed by the clever way they artworks distort and reflect the world around you.

  • Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, Mattock Lane, London W5 5EQ
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 4.30 (Saturday 3pm)
  • Admission: £7.70 Members and under 18 free, Ealing residents free on Tuesday and Sunday mornings

CHRISTIAN DIOR: DESIGNER OF DREAMS at V&A until 1 September 2019

Dior Designer of Dreams
Dior: Designer of Dreams – I’ll have the coat on the right, please

J’dore Dior, there said it. It is not allowed to write about this exhibition unless you include J’dore Dior, preferably in the the title! If you love clothes, engineering or sparkly things this is the exhibition for you. It is simply beautiful. I’m a member of the V&A and will take full advantage of my membership by visiting this luscious exhibition as often as I can. Advance tickets have sold out, some tickets are available on the day but you need to arrive early and queue. The best way to secure entry if you don’t already tickets would be to become a member of the V&A, as members can go when they want.

  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.45pm, Friday until 10pm
  • Admission: Adults £20 – £24, members go free

MARY QUANT at V&A until 16 February 2020

Mary Quant again! This time she has an exhibition all to herself. Mini skirts, hot pants, coloured tights ….. they all started with Mary Quant. Over 200 garments will be on display including clothes from Mary’s own closet not seen in public before!

  • Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5.45pm, Friday until 10pm
  • Admission: Adults £12, members go free


Do I love the anticipation of a good exhibition, seeing the show or savouring it afterwards best? Tricky one …. anyway here is a selection of what I’m excited about seeing this Spring

WRITING: MAKING YOUR MARK at British Library 26 April – 27 August 2019

Writing, its something that I do every day. If I’m not writing then I am often reading somebody else’s writing. I mean picking up a pen but the printed word too, I’m writing NOW! The British Library promises an exhibition looking at writing right from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, through the very first printed books, right up to blogging. Exhibitions at the British Library are always treats with amazing treasures on show.

  • British Library, 96 Euston Road, NW1 2DB
  • Open: Daily 9.30am – 6pm, Tuesday 8pm, Saturday – Sunday 5pm
  • Admission: £14, members go free


LEONARDO DA VINCI: A LIFE IN DRAWING – Nationwide until 6 May 2019

Leonardo da Vinci self portrait
Could this be a Leonardo self portrait?

Loenardo da Vinci died 500 years ago, there will be big exhibitions in Paris and Milan to mark this anniversary. The greatest collection of Leonardo drawings in the world is owned by the Queen, they usually live protected from the light, in Windsor Castle. The Queen has sent twelve different drawings to twelve British cities were they will be on show until the beginning of May, then they will all be on show at the Queen’s Gallery in London and then at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. I popped down to Southampton City Art Gallery to see some (did you know that there is a fine selection of Edward Burne Jones always on show in Southampton?). So if you are in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton or Sunderland pop into see them. I went down to Southampton to revel in Leonardo’s amazing draughtsmanship. The London exhibition opens on my birthday, I can’t think of a finer birthday treat!

You may have noticed that members or friends go free these exhibitions, free gallery entrance is just one of the many perks of being a museum friend, why not check out my guide to London Museum Memberships to see if you’d like to join up. Once you’ve seen the exhibition why not head to the cafe for a restoring drink, check out my guide to London Museum Cafe’s.

Which exhibitions do you fancy seeing? Have I missed out the one that you have been really, really looking forward to?

London Exhibitions Spring 2019 what to see at London's galleries and museums
Oregon Girl Around the World



  1. February 6, 2019 / 11:46 am

    I can’t wait to see the Dior exhibition. Looks like you’re going to be very busy too.

    • Catherine
      February 6, 2019 / 1:00 pm

      You will love it! I have to get my step count up somehow!

  2. helenvicjo
    February 6, 2019 / 1:19 pm

    Thanks, Catherine – what a mouth-watering selection – and a very comprehensive summary. Looking forward to using my membership for many of these..

    • Catherine
      February 6, 2019 / 1:20 pm

      Fantastic … are you like me with a wallet bulging full of membership cards?

      • helenvicjo
        February 7, 2019 / 12:11 pm

        Well, I have V&A, Tate, and Dulwich Picture Gallery and my best museum-going buddy has RA and National Gallery. And then I have an Art Pass to give me a discount off the others. Galleries and museums are my indulgence.

        • Catherine
          February 7, 2019 / 1:33 pm

          That’s quite comprehensive! I love the Art Fund card

  3. February 7, 2019 / 7:53 am

    BEYOND excited by the Elizabethan miniatures … a bit meh about video art next to Michelangelo … which means I should probably go!

    • Catherine
      February 7, 2019 / 8:15 am

      Video art and Michelangelo certainly makes you think!

  4. February 8, 2019 / 6:06 pm

    What a great article Catherine, very exciting to see Munch coming shortly to British Tate! I am still to see Dior and heard its sold out until mid April 🙈 Ruskin also on my list funnily enough I discovered him via Alain de Botton and pretty much in awe since! #culturedkids

  5. February 9, 2019 / 12:28 pm

    This all looks amazing – thank you so much for putting together this comprehensive round up. I’ve forwarded to a friend as looks like I’ll miss most of these 😞. I’ll look out for your summer round up as I’ll be back home then! 😀

    • Catherine
      February 9, 2019 / 12:47 pm

      I shall write one just for you!

  6. February 9, 2019 / 12:57 pm

    What a great round-up Catherine. So excited for what is coming up. P.S. You can’t have that coat. It’s mine. #CULTUREDKids

    • Catherine
      February 9, 2019 / 1:07 pm

      Maybe we could share?

  7. Federica Provolenti
    February 9, 2019 / 8:10 pm

    Living in London I found your post truly helpful. I am a friend of the RA and my girls enjoyed the Viola/Michelangelo exhibition as they love videos but not as much as Oceania. I have some of your suggested shows already in my calendar but I will try to add some more.

    • Catherine
      February 9, 2019 / 8:12 pm

      I loved the Viola/Michelangelo too but it was obvious that others didn’t!

  8. February 9, 2019 / 8:58 pm

    Thanks Catherine, that’s quite a line up for Spring! Dior is lovely and I think I’m going to be in and out of the V&A quite a lot in the next few months but there are so many other ideas here too!

    • Catherine
      February 9, 2019 / 9:02 pm

      The V&A always has tempting morsels!

  9. February 14, 2019 / 7:35 pm

    Great list as ever, Catherine.Im off to see Dior and McCullin, but I also think the foundling museum’s exhibition sounds fascinating. #culturedkids

  10. February 14, 2019 / 8:14 pm

    I love Bonnard – you’re so lucky having it all on your doorstep! #Farawayfiles

  11. February 15, 2019 / 1:35 pm

    Aww wish I was in London for spring! I’d love to see the Romanov collection as well as the Dior couture collection! We’ll be back in England in August, so hopefully we can pop into London for a bit, so I’ll have to hit you up for some interesting exhibitions! #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      February 15, 2019 / 2:14 pm

      Always happy to help!

  12. February 19, 2019 / 7:55 pm

    I love it when you share these posts, as you’ve made the research so easy for the rest of us. 😉 I’m hoping to find myself in London in July, and if I’m lucky maybe I’ll get to see the Dior coat, and the rest of the exhibition too! #farawayfiles

  13. February 20, 2019 / 12:18 pm

    I’m always up for a photography exhibit and would love to see the Diane Arbus and Don McCullin exhibitions. I’ve seen a later version of Munch’s The Scream in Oslo, but would love to see that exhibition as well – love his colorful style. Thanks for the fab round up – so much to see! Cheers from Copenhagen. #FarawayFiles

    • Catherine
      February 21, 2019 / 9:12 am

      I think that this might be Olso’s scream coming over for a visit whilst his home is being renovated

  14. February 21, 2019 / 8:06 am

    They all sound great but Dior is top of my list #farawayfile

    • Catherine
      February 21, 2019 / 9:12 am

      Loved loved 💕 the Dior

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