London is a honeypot of some of the world’s best exhibitions – so where to start? We’ve gathered our top pick of exhibitions on display in the capital right now, plus those to look forward to in the future. If in doubt, pop into one of the incredible (free) museums and galleries clustered on Kensington’s aptly named Exhibition Road, and you’re sure to find something inspiring.
Best Exhibitions In London 2023 (& 2024 Preview)
Dogs With Jobs
Dogs are far more than just pets: they aid emotional development, they can sense when we’re sad, and they’re a lifeline for people in need of service animals. At present, around 7,000 people in the UK rely on a service dog, and – in an effort to raise funds to continue the crucially important work of training these furry workers – The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has partnered with world-renowned photographer RANKIN to curate a bespoke exhibition at Saatchi Gallery. Supported by George and The Caring Family Foundation, visitors can expect to see beautiful photographs of some of the UK’s most inspiring service dogs, from hospital therapy Huskies to police force Shiba Inus.
Details: 10–18 December 2023 at the Saatchi Gallery (Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, London SW3 4RY). Admission is free and pre-booking is not required. saatchigallery.com
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, UVA (or the United Visual Artists collective) will unveil its largest ever survey exhibition, taking over 180 Studios’ subterranean space. From newly commissioned work to collaborations, expect your perception of reality and human instincts to be challenged through mesmerising audio-visual artworks.
Details: 12 October 2023–1 January 2024 at 180 Studios (180 Strand, Temple, London WC2R 1EA). 180studios.com
Heecheon Kim: Double Poser
Fancy challenging your perception of the world? Turns out you might be doing this everyday thanks to technology. This is the underpinning of Heecheon Kim’s debut UK exhibition, taking place at the Hayward Gallery this winter. The South Korean artist and filmmaker was recently awarded the 2023 Hermès Foundation Missulsang Art Prize, cementing his place as one of the leading emerging artistic voices in Korea right now. Visitors can expect a radical analysis of our bodies, memories, emotions, identities, physical experiences and the banality of daily life through a merging of the virtual and physical realms.
Details: 1 December 2023–7 January 2024 at the Hayward Gallery (Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX). Free to visit. southbankcentre.co.uk
RE/SISTERS: A Lens on Gender and Ecology
This major group exhibition surveys the relationship between gender and ecology to identify the systemic links between the oppression of women and the degradation of the planet. Drawing together photography, film and installations by nearly 50 international women and gender non-conforming artists, this is a truly international exhibition spanning decades but focussing on an urgent engagement with, and protest against, the ongoing ecological crisis.
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Details: 5 October 2023–14 January 2024 at the Barbican Art Gallery (Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS). barbican.org.uk
Accidentally Wes Anderson: The Exhibition
The Instagram account turned New York Times bestselling book has been transformed into an exhibition for London audiences. Prepare to be transported to the filmmaker’s surreal yet picturesque world, where warm hues and unnerving symmetry rule the day, with real life examples embodying the unique aesthetic. Delve into the stories behind these real places, before creating and capturing your own Accidentally Wes Anderson moment, too.
Details: 13 December 2023–17 February 2024 at 85 Old Brompton Road, South Kensington, London SW7 3LD. feverup.com
Malorie Blackman: The Power Of Stories
The British Library has partnered with socially minded design collective Power Out of Restriction (POoR) to curate and display a special exhibition shining a light on the life and career of one of Britain’s most pioneering authors of the last 40 years, Malorie Blackman. Exploring issues such as social division, power imbalances and oppression, The Power of Stories will consider the impact of Blackman’s books on the children and adults who have enjoyed them.
Details: 24 November 2023–25 February 2024 at the British Library (96 Euston Rd., London NW1 2DB). bl.uk
Expect to see incredible costumes and sketches exploring the fashion of history’s most iconic performers at this innovative V&A exhibition, spanning Victorian opera to modern day pop. Pop on your headphones and feel totally immersed in the work and personalities of some of the world’s most incredible performers.
Details: Until 7 April 2024 at the V&A (Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL). Tickets are £20 per person. vam.ac.uk
This major new exhibition at Somerset House will analyse the rise and rise of cuteness, an irresistible force in contemporary culture, seen most in emojis, memes, games, plushies and even food. But why are we so charmed by doe eyes, chubby cheeks and pastel colours? And how has it gained such traction? CUTE will explore and attempt to answer these questions by drawing together contemporary artworks, including several new artist commissions, and cultural phenomena such as music, fashion, toys, video games and social media.
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Details: 25 January–14 April 2024 at Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries (South Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA). General admission £18.50 (concessions, child and family tickets also available), half-price tickets for 25s and under on select Tuesdays. somersethouse.org.uk
The Cult of Beauty
This major upcoming exhibition will explore beauty in all its forms across the world and across time. Examining the profound influence of morality, status and health, age, race and gender on the evolution of ideas about beauty through history, The Cult of Beauty will consider fashion and much, much more. Through new artist commissions, contemporary artworks, and historical and modern material, expect to see over 200 objects and artworks exploring three overarching themes: The Ideals of Beauty, The Industry of Beauty, and Subverting Beauty.
BOOK IT: 26 October 2023–28 April 2024 at the Wellcome Collection (183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE). wellcomecollection.org
Turn It Up: The Power Of Music
Perfect for little ones, explore the power of music – how it moves us to create, perform, move and share – at the Science Museum’s new immersive exhibition. Featuring a music playground, you can play with beat, melody, harmonies, and even bust a move in the name of science. Meanwhile, learn all about improbable instruments and firsthand memories of chart-topping artists.
Details: 19 October 2023–6 May 2024 at the Science Museum (Exhibition Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD). sciencemuseum.org.uk
Wildlife Photographer Of The Year
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is back for 2023, exploring the planet’s myriad habitats, from sprawling urban metropolises to the deep polar seas. With soundscapes, videos, experts and, of course, stunning photography, come face to face with species facing extinction, those saved from the brink, and see first hand how humans help and hinder the natural world.
Details: 13 October 2023–30 June 2024 at the Natural History Museum (Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London SW7 5BD). nhm.ac.uk
Barbie-mania is here to stay, it seems. The Design Museum has announced a Barbie exhibition will arrive in summer 2024, celebrating the fresh faced doll’s 65th birthday. It will survey the blonde beauty’s evolution, from her early years to becoming the world’s most recognisable doll. Curated closely with Mattel Inc., dozens of rare and unique items will be displayed to tell the story of the iconic brand over the past six-and-a-half decades.
Details: 5 July 2024–23 February 2025 at The Design Museum (224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG). designmuseum.org