Best London exhibitions: the top 10 art, history and cultural displays on right now
London has more world-class museums and galleries than you can shake a paintbrush at, each of which work to bring us special exhibitions that challenge our perspectives and broaden our cultural horizons.
But with so many stellar options for a culture fix, where do you even start?
From historical gems to cutting edge art, we’ve picked out the cream of London’s bountiful crop of exhibitions, all of which come highly recommended by the Standard’s critics.
If you haven’t seen them yet, what are you waiting for?
Bringing together several of Slovak-born artist Maria Bartuszová’s rarely seen works, this show pays tribute to an artist who started plying her trade in the 1960s under strict artistic restrictions, and went on to create more than 500 sculptures, shaping clay into works that evoke nature and the human body.
Tate Modern, to April 16; tate.org.uk
Hyundai Commission 2022: Cecilia Vicuña
The annual Turbine Hall installation is under wraps as ever, but maybe more literally than usual - Chilean artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña is best known for her radical textile sculptures, combining natural materials and traditional crafts and exploring questions of ecology, community, and social justice.
Tate Modern, to April 16; tate.org.uk
War Games: Real Conflicts, Virtual Worlds, Extreme Entertainment
This thoughtful (and interactive) exhibition aims to unpick the complex and multi-layered relationship between real life conflict and the gun-toting videogame versions that make billions of dollars every year.
Imperial War Museum, to May 28; iwm.org.uk
This solo exhibition will show a range of work from Finnish artist Pilvi Takala from 2008 to date, and will include her work Close Watch (2022), which was shown at the Finnish Pavilion as part of the 2022 Venice Biennale. Takala’s videos, installations and performance pieces explore social codes and conventions – in offices, theme parks, shopping malls and other public spaces – as she, often humorously, crosses or questions norms that have been mindlessly accepted.
Goldsmiths CCA, to June 4; goldsmithscca.art
The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance
Prepare to shed new light on one of the most unforgettable paintings in the National’s Collection: Quinten Massys’ An Old Woman (c.1513), which inspired John Tenniel’s illustrations forAlice in Wonderland in 1865. The show will place the picture in its original context, stressing its novelty as a pioneering work of secular and satirical art, and will interrogate the Renaissance’s attitudes towards older women and the currency placed – then as now – on women’s youth and appearance.
National Gallery, to June 11; nationalgallery.org.uk
Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South
Around 64 works by 34 artists from the mid-20th century to the present, showcasing unique African American artistic traditions and methods of visual storytelling, with artworks whose subjects and materials often reverberate with the South’s painful history. A landmark show for Britain.
Royal Academy, to June 18; royalacademy.org.uk
Hallyu! The Korean Wave
From Squid Game to Gangnam Style and K-Pop, South Korea has become a celebrated part of global pop culture. This show explores the beginnings of the “Korean Wave” and traces its evolution from the 1960s to today.
V&A, to June 25; vam.ac.uk
After Impressionism Inventing Modern Art
At the turn of the 20th century there was a period of great upheaval in art: artists such as Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin started to break away from their Impressionist contemporaries, producing works that would lay the foundation of subsequent art movements Symbolism, Art Nouveau, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism. In this wide-raging exhibition, the National Gallery will investigate this transformative period, with over 100 works from artists including Klimt, Kokoschka, Mondrian, Kandinsky and Rodin.
National Gallery, March 25 to August 13; nationalgallery.org.uk
Titanosaur: Life as the biggest dinosaur
This exhibition on the Titanosaur will not only feature the skeleton of a majestic Patagotitan mayorum (four times heavier than Dippy the Diplodocus and 12 metres longer than the Natural History Museum’s blue whale, Hope) – making it the first time the dinosaur is being exhibited in Europe – but will follow the Titanosaur’s life, from its beginnings as a football sized egg, to growing up and fleeing predators. In this interactive exhibition, there’ll be specimens to handle, a recreation of the smell of its poo, and information on the dinosaur’s food sources, all to bring to life the way it survived on Planet Earth around 100 million years ago.
Natural History Museum, March 31 to January 7, 2024; nhm.ac.uk