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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© Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls' House

  • Free

Here's your chance to have a poke around somebody else's house and discover tales of marriage, parties, politics and crime – without feeling nosey. At the V&A Museum of Childhood's winter exhibition, 12 dolls' houses from the museum's extensive collection represent changes in architecture and design over the past 300 years and provide an insight into the lives of the characters that inhabit these delicate creations.

  1. V&A Museum of Childhood Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA
  2. Until Sun Sep 6
More info
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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. Until Sun Apr 12
Buy tickets
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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. Until Sun Sep 20
More info
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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. Until Sun Aug 30
More info
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© 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. Until Mon Jan 26
More info
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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. Until Sun Mar 15
More info
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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
More info
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Churchill's Scientists

  • Free

We'd never have won the war without science on our side, and a great number of breakthroughs took place under the direction of Winston Churchill. Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the portly Prime Minister's death, this exhibition celebrates the inventions and scientific endeavour which came to Britain's aid during World War Two.

  1. Science Museum Exhibition Rd, SW7 2DD
  2. Until Tue Mar 1
More info
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© 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
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'Inflatable Cobblestone' © Oriana Eliçabe/Enmedio.info

Disobedient Objects

  • Free

A selection of objects from the 1980s to now that detail the history of protest and the role these objects played in making change happen. Including woven barriers, political videogames, an inflatable general assembly (a creation by Greta Hansen that brings together and covers a public gathering, a bit like a marquee), experimental activist bicycles and much more.

  1. V&A Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
  2. Until Sun Feb 1
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