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.


© Mark Neville

IWM Contemporary: Mark Neville

  • Free

As part of the launch of the Imperial War Museum's new First World War Galleries, this exhibition from British artist Mark Neville is a response to the war in Afghanistan. The work was commissioned by the IWM's Art Commissions Committee and arts association Firstsite Colchester in 2010, and the artist spent two months with an air assault brigade in Helmland Province to get a thorough insight into the impact of conflict. The photographs and films are a moving and direct portrayal of young British soldiers, and Afghan children growing up in the midst of the violence.

  1. Imperial War Museum Lambeth Rd, SE1 6HZ
  2. Until Thu Sep 25
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
More info

© Wellcome Library, London

An Idiosyncratic A to Z of the Human Condition

  • Free

When you've got the run of a collection of objects, artefacts, images and sculptures as eclectic as Henry Wellcome's, creating an alphabet of exhibits is as easy as A-B-C. But the Wellcome Collection have form in innovative exhibitions, and 'An Idiosyncratic A to Z of the Human Condition' presents a whole theme around every letter, often with a way for visitors to interact with the display.

  1. Wellcome Collection Euston Road, NW1 2BE
  2. Until Sun Oct 12
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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

© 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. Until Sun Nov 2
More info

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

Marc Montes

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Tickets are on sale now for this blockbuster show. 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. Fri Oct 24 - Tue Mar 31
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. Mon Sep 8 - Sun Jan 4
More info

Quentin Blake - Inside Stories

  • Rated as: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was once a child, and I read children’s books. So, like millions of other kids, a major part of the way I learned to enjoy literature and imagery was via Quentin Blake’s pen. Witness me and the other adult exhibition-goers, lingering over the drawings at ‘Inside Stories’, goofy grins and excited mutterings a testament to the unique role that Blake’s scribbly, squiggly lines and vibrant splotches of colour continue to play in our imaginations. Evidently, the new House of Illustration would have had to try very hard indeed to fail with this exhibition – but even considering the easily pleased audience held captive by its upbringing, it is a fine show.

  1. House of Illustration 2 Granary Square, N1C 4BH
  2. Until Sun Nov 2
More info

Find more fascinating exhibitions

Free exhibitions

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New exhibitions

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Museum lates

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Photography exhibitions

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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!