Top 10 museum exhibitions in London

Check out our pick of the city's top cultural offerings for 2014

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Get your 2014 diary at the ready: London's top museums are set to showcase an abundance of cracking exhibitions throughout the year. Over the next 12 months, discover the secrets of Sherlock Holmes, marvel at the weird and wonderful Designs of the Year, and see the style and sparkle of Italian fashion through the decades.

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© The Kinsey Institute

The Institute of Sexology

  • Free

The Wellcome Collection's newly expanded gallery space will open with a wink and a blush with The Institute of Sexology, an exhibition that brings together the great pioneers of the study of sex. More than 200 pieces of art, erotica, photography and ethnography will help visitors get a new perspective on perversions, lust and normality, with live events, discussions and performances to accompany the X-rated exhibits.

  1. Wellcome Collection Euston Rd, NW1 2BE
  2. Tue Nov 25 - Sun Sep 20
More info
2

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous Londoners ever. This exhibition at the Museum of London seeks to find out who Holmes is, and why Arthur Conan Doyle's late-Victorian detective endures to this day. Exhibits will include a nineteenth-century portrait of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, original Holmes manuscripts and the very coat and dressing gown worn by Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC's 'Sherlock'. Many of the paintings, drawings, illustrations and photographs will reveal details of Victorian London, giving a glimpse of the famous landmarks and cultural climate which inspired Conan Doyle's creations.

  1. Museum of London 150 London Wall, EC2Y 5HN
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Sun Apr 12
More info
3

Marc Montes

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Celebrating its fiftieth year, the renowned competition exhibition returns to the Natural History Museum with images of the most extraordinary species on the planet captured by professional and amateur photographers. Attracting record number visitors each year and over 40,000 entries you can preview the talent on show and even have your say with the People’s Choice Award that includes stunning under water views of Australian sea lion pups playing to the unlikely vision of a texting monkey. Get in quick as voting closes on Sep 5.

  1. Natural History Museum Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Sun Aug 30
More info
4

Women Fashion Power

Whether it's shoulder pads, twinsets or a dress made of meat, what a women wears is one of her most complex forms of self-expression. Influential women throughout history have used fashion to their advantage. This exhibition looks at the wardrobes of 25 exceptional women, with each of them contributing an outfit. The women featured include Dame Vivienne Westwood, with highlight outfits including one of Thatcher's suits and a dress by Jacques Azagury that was worn by Princess Diana.

  1. Design Museum 28 Butlers Wharf, Shad Thames, SE1 2YD
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Sun Apr 26
More info
5

© British Library Board

Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination

October 2014 will see the start of the UK's most comprehensive show of Gothic literature. Terror and Wonder will explore the enduring influence the genre has had on literature, film, fashion, music and art, 250 years after Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto crept out of the shadows. Doubts about the significance of Walpole's invention? It birthed Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Robert Louis Stevenson's Jekyll and Hyde, as well as inspiring artists such as Blake and Fuseli, all of them represented in this show, along with work by their modern descendants: Angela Carter, Mervyn Peake, the Chapman Brothers and Stanley Kubrick.

  1. British Library Euston Rd, NW1 2DB
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Tue Jan 27
More info
6

Designing the Twentieth Century: Life and Work of Abram Games

Abram Games had an influential and celebrated 60-year career as a graphic designer. He created the first animated BBC ident and many of London Transport's most iconic posters and was appointed an official poster artist during World War II. This exhibition, curated with help from Games' children Naomi and Daniel, looks at his artistic process through a collection of more than 100 original posters, paintings and sketches, many taken from the family's archive. Entry is free with museum admission.

  1. Jewish Museum 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Sun Jan 4
More info
7

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Ming: 50 Years that Changed China

The notion of China as a global superpower is nothing new, as this blockbuster in the British Museum's new Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery will show, but during the five decades of the Ming Dynasty (1400-1450) China was the only such global player. The exhibition will draw together some of the world's most beautiful objects, with loans from more than 20 collections across the world, to explain how China became the country it is.

  1. British Museum 44 Great Russell St, WC1B 3DG
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Mon Jan 5
More info
8

Wedding dresses 1775-2014

  • Critics choice

Take a look at two centuries of meringue design, at the V&A's crowd-pleasing Spring exhibition of wedding dresses. The star exhibits are likely to be the celebrity gowns - punky Gwen Stefani's pink dip-dye Dior number is shown for the first time, and it's a whopper. Some of the most exquisite workmanship comes from the older pieces though - a perfectly preserved brocade gown from 1780 is stitched from Spitalfields silk.

  1. V&A Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
  2. Mon Nov 24 - Sun Mar 15
More info
9

Geffrye Museum

Christmas Past

  • Free

One of London's prettiest attractions, tucked into a cleverly converted almshouse building, the Geffrye Museum in east London traces changes in middle-class taste in interior design through a series of period room settings. At this time of year, a few carefully researched festive touches are added to each space: a spray of greenery here, a bauble there; nothing very flashy. Modest though it is, there's something rather magical about 'Christmas Past'. Fans of this gem of a museum tend to make an annual pilgrimage to stock up on great Christmas cards from the museum shop and savour the show's seasonal charm.

  1. Geffrye Museum Kingsland Road, E2 8EA
  2. Tue Nov 25 - Sun Jan 4
More info
10

Ancient Lives: New Discoveries

This exhibition aims to unravel the mysteries of mummification. From a priest’s daughter to a temple doorkeeper, the interactive displays explore the identities of eight individuals, using their embalmed bodies to uncover clues about how they lived. By using new non-invasive procedures, such as CT scanning and 3D visualisation, the BM has built up a picture of life in the Nile Valley over 4,000 years.

  1. British Museum 44 Great Russell St, WC1B 3DG
  2. Until Sun Nov 30
More info

Find more fascinating exhibitions

Free exhibitions

Save your pounds for the gift shop and find out what you can see without paying an entrance fee

New exhibitions

Keep updated with the dizzying array of new and recently opened exhibitions in London

Museum lates

Drinks, music and talks all add to the pleasure of these evening exhibition openings

Photography exhibitions

Experience a whole new world of artistic awesomeness at these blockbuster photography exhibitions


Users say

4 comments
Lynn
Lynn

I must be missing something - i only see 9! And i don't see the Bowie at the V&A and that simply MUST be on there!

David
David

And the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition opening on Monday is'nt even mentioned !

ian
ian

yes and what can i do TODAY please!

See more exhibitions in London

Free exhibitions

Save your pounds for the gift shop and find out what you can see without paying an entrance fee

New exhibitions

Keep updated with the dizzying array of new and recently opened exhibitions in London

Museum lates

Drinks, music and talks all add to the pleasure of these evening exhibition openings

Photography exhibitions

Experience a whole new world of artistic awesomeness at these blockbuster photography exhibitions

Visit our guide to exhibitions in London