London boasts some of the world’s best art galleries, museums and institutions, many of which will be hosting blockbuster exhibitions this summer.
When it comes to cultural and creative output, London has a lot to say for itself. From cutting-edge exhibits on the climate crisis to major retrospectives on the country’s greatest artists, there’s plenty to stimulate curious minds in the capital. And, as well as the big names – the V&A, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum – you’ll find a treasure trove of eclectic collections too. If you’re planning a trip to London this summer, we’ve picked out 20 of the best exhibitions taking place between June and September 2022.
Our Broken Planet
This free exhibition explores how humans have transformed the natural world for the worse. Museum scientists have selected 40 objects that best reveal the consequences of our actions and explore the solutions that might be able to help fix the damage. Highlights include a deep dive into how centuries of farming have transformed the earth’s landscape, the real price of sugar and what a joyous time it is to be a jellyfish. The exhibition is hosted in the Jerwood Gallery, which has held some of the museum’s most exciting and ambitious temporary exhibitions over the past three decades.
Natural History Museum/ Until 29 August 2022
Vision and Virtuosity by Tiffany & Co
Celebrating 150 years since the iconic jeweller first arrived in London, this glittering exhibition takes visitors on a journey through Tiffany & Co’s storied history, right from its founding in New York in 1837. Visitors are invited to ogle at more than 400 dazzling pieces, including the famous 128-carat Tiffany diamond worn by Audrey Hepburn. Other items on display include the original script from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the brand’s famed window displays. Each chapter explores separate themes that are central to the Tiffany brand, from Charles Lewis Tiffany’s legacy to the annual Blue Book Jewellery Collection to the ‘spectacle of diamonds’.
The Saatchi Gallery/ Until 19 August 2022
This bumper-sized show by Fact and 180 Studios brings together 14 pioneering digital artists and collectives from across the globe to transform 180 Studios’ concrete spaces using immersive digital technology. Through generative and interactive algorithms, AI, 3D digital mapping, holographic projections and electronic music, the exhibition blurs boundaries between the physical and virtual in one of the capital’s most exciting new spaces. The show features multiple new commissions from visionary artists, site-specific installations and vital sensory experiences that promise to challenge our preconceptions.
180 The Strand/ Until 28 August 2022
Summer at the RA
Summer at the RA is the longest-running annual display of contemporary art run without interruption since 1769. This year’s theme, ‘Climate’, features works from a wide range of invited and emerging artists, and champions art in all forms, from painting and prints to film and photography. As always, the gallery will feature themed drinks at the bars, artist-designed flags lining Picadacdilly and large-scale immersive installations in the courtyard, this year by Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias. There are also two rooms of prints selected by Grayson Perry RA, a structure made from dung bricks and new work by the Singh Twins.
Royal Academy of Art/ From 21 June until 21 August 2022
Our Time On Earth
Our Time on Earth is, at its heart, an exhibition about how we can change the conversation around the climate emergency. In Refuge for Resurgence, a table is laid for a multi-species dinner, while in Symbioncene visitors are invited to explore how ingenious technologies can help shape our response to climate change. Radical, interactive and immersive, this fascinating exhibition uses design, science, music, art and philosophy to explore a range of perspectives on how we interact with our ecosystem – and how we can reconnect with the millions of other species inhabiting it.
Barbican Centre/ Until 29 August 2022
The Show is Over
Bringing together more than 14 international artists, The Show is Over confronts the reality that notions of the end of the world are both constantly evolving and more present than ever. Each artist takes a personal approach to the subject of global politics and searches for new vocabularies in the afterlife of historical colonial violence. The exhibition, which is curated by Johannesburg-based Gabi Ngcobo in dialogue with Oscar Murillo, will fill all gallery spaces across the South London Gallery’s two public buildings. Artists involved include British-born Nigerian artist Karimah Ashadu, South African visual artist Moshekwa Langa and visual artist, dancer, and performer, Luana Vitra.
South London Gallery/ From 24 June until 4 September 2022
Billed as the first exhibition of this kind, this ferocious and fascinating exhibition explores feminine power through the role of female spiritual beings in religion and faith. Spanning some 5,000 years, the exhibition uses sculptures, sacred objects and artworks from six continents to explore how demons, witches, goddesses, spirits and saints have influenced our understanding of the world. As well as ancient artefacts, there are insights into what femininity means today from faith communities, worshippers and high-profile collaborators, including Mary Beard, Elizabeth Day, Bonnie Greer and Deborah France-White.
The British Museum/ Until 25 September 2022
Edvard Munch, Masterpieces from Bergen
Edvard Munch might be one of the world’s most famous artists, but we’ll wager you haven’t had the chance to get up close to these masterpieces before. This exhibition brings together some 18 paintings that have never been shown here before, having been snapped up years ago by a Bergen-based contemporary art collector. The exhibition showcases seminal early examples from his realist period that launched his career in the 1880s and his highly expressive paintings of the 1890s, including the famous Frieze of Life series.
The Courtauld Gallery/ Until 4 September 2022
The British Museum’s latest exhibition explores gold and its long-held power to ignite awe across cultures through the fascinating lens of manuscripts. Using fifty artefacts from the British Library’s extraordinary collection, the exhibition explores how this precious metal has been used throughout time to convey complex messages. Items include diplomatic texts written in gold, a tiny 16th-century ‘girdie’ book in gold binding and the Queen Mary Psalter, gifted to Mary I but crafted in the early 14th century. Open until early October, the exhibition has already received rave reviews.
The British Library/ Until 2 October 2022
Few can forget the sight of 800,000 ceramic poppies floating around the Tower of London in 2014 to mark the First World War centenary commemorations. This year, to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the same moat is set to explode with colourful blooms. Over 20 million seeds have been sown across the moat to create an evolving display of green, whites, blues, pinks and oranges. Visitors can weave their way through a field of blooms and willow-lined paths to the specially commissioned soundscape composed by contemporary Scottish composer, Erland Cooper, which softens the noise of the city and enhances the installation’s emotional impact.
Tower of London/ Until 18 September 2022
WEIRD SENSATIONS FEELS GOOD: The World of ASMR
Millions of people around the world are now part of an online community who experience ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), a tingly or deeply relaxing sensation in response to specific sounds, touch and movement. This exhibition lifts ASMR out of the screen and into the ‘acoustically tuned’ physical space for the first time ever, with works from designers and content creators who try to trigger the response in audiences through their work. Created in collaborations with ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, the exhibition also explores the emerging fields of creativity that have grown around the feeling.
The Design Museum/ Until 16 October 2022
Reframed: The Woman in the Window
Dulwich Picture Gallery’s latest exhibition explores the age-old motif of the woman in the window. The exhibition explores key geographic locations, cultures and time periods to explore how artists have used ‘the woman’ to elicit specific responses, whether that be empathy or voyeurism. Spanning two millennia, the exhibition includes blockbuster works from Rembrandt to Picasso to Hockney. Dulwich Picture Gallery’s own Rembrandt’s Girl at a Window inspired the exhibition. The British Museum has also loaned several ancient pieces to the exhibition, including an impressive 10th-century ivory panel and a Roman tomb.
Dulwich Picture Gallery/ Until 4 September 2022
Widely recognised as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, this is the first major retrospective of Walter Sickert at the Tate in over 60 years. The exhibition explores the artist’s radical approach to setting and subject matter, as well as his role in shaping modern British art today. Once an actor, his works are colourful and creative, often depicting scenes with a dramatic and theatrical quality that reveal his fascination with the rise of celebrity culture in the 20th century.
Tate Britain/ Until 18 September 2022
150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk
Exactly 150 years ago, needlework was on the brink of extinction. Then, the Royal School of Needlework was set up in 1872 to preserve hand embroidery as an art form and support women’s independence by providing a source of income. This blockbuster exhibition walks visitors through the school’s rich and surprising history, calling on its 5,000-piece archive alongside examples from museums and collections across the UK to showcase 120 of the country’s most impressive embroidered pieces. Works span everything from spectacular applique tapestries from the Arts and Crafts movement to royal commissions to contemporary works by top international designers and students.
The Fashion and Textile Museum/ Until 4 September 2022
Rana Begum, Dappled Light
Dappled Light is Rana Begum’s first solo London gallery show – and it sits beautifully in the Sir John Soane-designed Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery in Ealing. Here, Begum explores perceptions of light, colour and form playfully through sculptures, design and painting that respond to the architecture. It also incorporates the artist’s first-ever video work, which captures the changing light in the woodlands close to her home. But the real show-stealer here is a vibrant and hypnotic large-scale suspended cloud of coloured veils.
Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery/ Until 11 September 2022
The Secret Garden
Dates: 6 July – 4 September 2022
One of London’s most enchanting museums is set to host one of the capital’s most charming exhibitions this summer. Celebrating Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved children’s classic The Secret Garden, this exhibition will explore how artists have brought the book to life over the past century. As well as celebrating its illustrations, the show explores the author’s interest in gardening herself, with a focus on her gardens at Great Maytham Hall, Kent – an inspiration for this iconic novel.
The Garden Museum/ From 6 July until 4 September 2022
Thank You Darling
Lily van de Stokker is one of the Netherlands’ most celebrated artists. Bringing together works spanning 1989–2021, her first institution solo exhibition in London explores ideas of society, home, friendship, work, finances, illness and care. The show will exhibit some of her most monumental wall paintings, renowned for their distinctive colour palate and highly decorative motifs. Feminine, provocate and radical, her candy-bright murals ask views to consider probing questions about the everyday.
Camden Arts Centre/ Until 18 September 2022
This is Londoner Penny Goring’s first-ever solo exhibition in a public institution. Spanning 30 years of work, the exhibition explores the breadth of her extensive practice, which includes some of her most vividly coloured paintings, sculptures, self-portraits, digital collages and videos. She uses wide-ranging materials like ballpoint pens, food dye and Microsoft Paint to untangle complex themes – grief, trauma and violence – but there is comfort and empathy in her work too. Set within the context of the UK’s cost-of-living crisis, the exhibition is a staggering reminder of the power of creativity.
Institute of Contemporary Art/ Until 18 September 2022
Andrew & Eden Kötting
East London gallery New Art Projects is well-known for its imaginative installations and creative curation – and their latest show is no exception. The first London solo exhibition by Andrew and Eden Kötting, Excuse me, can you help me please? I’m terribly worried brings together works from the pair spanning 34 years. Working across a wide variety of media, including drawings, collages, paintings and sculptures made before and during the production of their award-winning film, Diseased and Disorderly, the exhibition aims to celebrate diversity within the collaboration. The show culminates in the Tell-Tale Heads Virtual Reality Experience, which breaks down the barriers between the artists and the startling worlds they’ve created.
New Art Projects London/ until 30 July 2022
Selfless at the RCP
Selfless, an exhibition of works from photographer Jessica van der Weert captures the working lives of NHS workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. In March 2020, she spent days with consultants, physicians, nurses, porters and volunteers in Northumbria and Brent to capture one of the most terrifying health crises of our lifetime. Supporting the portraits is a series of images taken in intensive and palliative care setting, with reportage photos with paramedics, people in the high-risk category and communities badly affected by the pandemic.
The Royal College of Physicians/ 1 July until 1 August 2022