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.


John Constable, 'Brighton Beach', 1824 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Constable: The Making of a Master

Suffolk-born romantic painter John Constable was never a success in his own lifetime. His paintings did well in France, but he only ever sold 20 in England, and it wasn't until his fifties that he was appointed a visiting lecturer at the Royal Academy of Arts, where he taught for a short time before his death, aged 60. Now, of course, he's a hugely influential name in the art world and the V&A is hosting this exhibition of Constable's works – alongside classical landscape artists Ruisdael and Claude – to explore his creative process. Over 250 drawings and watercolours will be on display, as well as mezzotints and oil sketches. Constable goes head to head with Turner in blockbuster exhibitions this autumn

  1. V&A Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sun Jan 11
More info

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 Oct 20 - Sun Apr 12
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Horst: Photographer of Style

A retrospective exhibtion of Horst P Horst's prolific 60-year career. The German-American photographer did shoots for couturiers such as Chanel, Schiaparelli and Vionnet in the ’30s, as well as experimenting with early colour techniques. His most renowned images will be on display alongside rarities and unpublished pictures, plus there will be a recreation of Horst's 1940s studio. Archive film footage, sketchbooks and letters will also give an insight into his creative process.

  1. V&A Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sun Jan 4
More info

© Martina Gardiner

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

  • Free

Among the awe-inspiring shortlisted entries for this year’s competition are pics of psychedelic auroras, spine-tingling meteor showers and the centre of the Heart Nebula. The last example is a star-clustered region of glowing gas in the Cassiopeia constellation – in case you didn’t already know. The free exhibition features remarkable photos from a record number of submissions, showcasing remarkable feats of astrophotography.

  1. Royal Observatory Blackheath Avenue, SE10 8XJ
  2. Until Sun Feb 1
More info

© 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 Oct 20 - Tue Jan 27
More info

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. Until Sun Jan 4
More info
Percy Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled, 1919

Percy Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled, 1919 digitised by Ted Dearberg (IWM)

Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War

  • Rated as: 5/5
  • Free

The war was just too big, confided William Kennington after he had completed his masterpiece ‘The Kensingtons at Laventie’ in 1915, one of the first things you’ll see in the ‘Memory’ section of this captivating two-part show. The authorities had hoped that Kennington would make more paintings to rival his pin-sharp, quietly devastating depiction of his unit – knackered, wounded, each soldier caught in a moment of reflection after their march back to billets from the trenches. But he couldn’t do it. The war was just too big.

  1. Imperial War Museum Lambeth Rd, SE1 6HZ
  2. Until Sun Mar 8
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© 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 Oct 20 - Mon Jan 5
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© Joan Fontcuberta

Joan Fontcuberta: Stranger Than Fiction

The Science Museum’s Media Space, which launched last year, showcases work held in the National Photography Collection and aims to explore the connections between photography, science, art and technology. Barcelona-born Joan Fontcuberta’s ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ plays on the viewer’s trust in the authenticity of photography by presenting mischievously misleading evidence of extraordinary creatures, people and places. The conceptual artist’s convincingly documented ‘discoveries’ include mermaid fossils, winged monkeys, dolphin-surfing monks and never-before-seen constellations.

  1. Science Museum Exhibition Rd, SW7 2DD
  2. Until Sun Nov 9
More info


Following on from the Museum of London's superb Estuary exhibition, which looked at artists' responses to the outer edges of the Thames, Bridge explores how bridges influence our visual sense of the city and provide a source of inspiration for artists and photographers. The star exhibit in this show about the structures crossing the Thames is a shot by pioneering photographer William Fox Talbot, the oldest photograph in the museum's collection.

  1. Museum of London Docklands Hertsmere Rd, West India Quay, E14 4AL
  2. Mon Oct 20 - Sun Nov 2
More info

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Users say


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!


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


yes and what can i do TODAY please!