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Exhibitions in London

Our guide to the best free, new and critically-acclaimed exhibitions in London

Got a free hour to spare? Soak up some culture at one of the many great exhibitions in London. Whether you want to see paintings, photography, fossils or washing powder packaging through the ages, there's an exhibition to suit your mood. We've also put together a comprehensive guide to the seven wonders of London's museums and attractions, to help you really zone into our city's cultural core.

The very best exhibitions in London

Museums

Top ten museum exhibitions

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Art

Top ten art exhibitions

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Art

Top ten photography exhibitions

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Things to do

Free exhibitions in London

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New exhibitions in London

Things to do

Colour and Vision

If ever a show was made for Instagram, this is it. The Natural History Museum’s exploration of colour, vision and their roles in the natural world is chock full of beauty. Stuffed hummingbirds glimmer like opals. A case holds dozens of cinnabar moths, scarlet wings spread wide. Even the jars of bisected animal eyes have a gruesome aesthetic appeal. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Jukebox, Jewkbox! A Century on Shellac and Vinyl

Go on a magical musical tour through the history of records at this beautifully designed and satisfyingly informative exhibition on the top floor of Camden’s Jewish Museum. You’ll be greeted by a row of antique gramophones and the story of how music came to be widely played on vinyl, told with a focus on contributions from Jewish inventors and businessmen. 

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Fire! Fire!

On September 2, 350 years ago, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary about ‘an infinite great fire’ raging in London. Homes burned, people scrambled to save their goods and pigeons ‘hovered about the windows and balconies till they some of them burned their wings’. 

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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The BFG in Pictures

Unlike the Big Friendly Giant’s ears, this exhibition of original drawings – some on display for the first time – is pretty tiny, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in charm. Quentin Blake himself has provided text for the labels (he is the gallery’s founder, after all), meaning they’re extra loveable and a little fact-light, but the joy here is being able to almost press your nose up to the beautiful illustrations that are so familiar.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Find more new exhibitions in London

Free exhibitions in London

Art

Jorge Otero-Pailos: The Ethics of Dust

Seriously, ‘The Ethics of Dust’ is a terrible name for a work of art. Yes, it’s taken from something written by John Ruskin, but out of context it sounds like a philosophical treatise by Kim and Aggie (‘How morally clean is your house?’). Fortunately, Spanish preservationist and artist Jorge Otero-Pailos makes better art than his titles suggest. And for this latest Artangel commission, he’s filled Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament with one of the best sculptures you’ll see this summer. The idea is simple: in the process of cleaning this Unesco world heritage site’s walls, the artist covered them in latex and peeled it off to trap centuries of pollution, dust and dirt. The result is two huge sheets hanging from the rafters in the 900-year-old hall. And it’s absolutely stunning. Stark and minimal, but literally full of history. In all this dust and muck you’ll find centuries of political wrangling, hundreds of years of decisions that have shaped the fate of Great Britain. It’s like he’s peeled layers of skin of the walls and hung them from the ceiling. Disraeli’s dandruff, Cromwell’s skin flakes, John Major’s ancient, coughed-up saliva – it’s all probably here, glued into these giant latex curtains.   The work has to fight against the grandeur of this ancient space, the flocks of jabbering school kids and the occasional panicked MP rushing by. It survives – thrives, even – because of its beautiful simplicity.   Hanging there, glowing, it looks like some ancient

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Things to do

Beatrix Potter's London

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of celebrated children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, who was a frequent visitor to the museum where she would often sit and sketch. This exhibition celebrates the date with artworks, original sketches and her earliest published works on show.

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Art

Raqib Shaw: Self Portrait

Absolutely ludicrous. That’s what Raqib Shaw’s art is. And it’s hard to express just how ludicrous it all is, really. His paintings are big, Renaissance-inspired maelstroms of death, gold, hybrid animals, gaping fanged vaginas and screaming skeletons. He’s the art world’s own Liberace, a Kashmir-born Brit with the most ridiculous taste on earth.  Basically, imagine all your favourite Renaissance paintings in the National Gallery with the crazy dialled up to 11. Shaw is obviously a lover and a student of the Old Masters, and he uses their tropes for his own purposes: the extreme perspective, the dramatic classical composition, the clothing, the colours.  There’s a real mish-mash of things going on here: you’ll spot Kashmiri architecture, Peckham street scenes, bottles of champagne, mythical animals and Japanese clothing. These works are reflections of the artist – moments from his past, the places he’s lived, ruminations on death, all that shit. They’re hectic visions of his life, imagined and real, frozen beautifully and luxuriously on canvas.  Next door there are three hyper-sexualised, twisting bronze sculptures of centaurs and bat-headed dudes with tooth-y minges. They’re just as good as the paintings, only less colourful. These are grotesque, gaudy and, yes, ludicrous works, but they’re lovingly made, fun, honest, and really pretty great.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Things to do

Summer Screen Prints

The Summer Screen Prints exhibition is back and taking place once again during the venue's series of outdoor film screenings. Print Club London are reminding us just how much we love the flicks through the medium of screen printing and have selected 16 artists to create a poster for each of the movies using a classic scene, recognisable character or quotable line of dialogue as their inspiration. The punchy prints represent films such a 'Sunset Boulevard', 'Funny Face' and 'Trainspotting' and artists this year include Cassandra Yap, Jean Jullien and Rose Stallard. 2016 will also see a programme of events, demos, workshops and live screen printing take place.

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See more free things to do in London

Discover more of London's culture

Attractions

Unmissable London attractions

Where to start your city sightseeing checklist?

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Things to do

14 weird but wonderful London museums

Beautiful buildings and extraordinary exhibits

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Comments

9 comments
Evelyn H
Evelyn H

@Evelyn H 


You are very welkome to visit my first expo in Londen.

Hilton Hotel on Park lane. Executive room.

16 februari-15 march

Evelyn Hamilton

www.hamilton-art.nl

Shahib A
Shahib A

My Boss is going to WTM 2014 his name is Mr Abbas Ali Zaidi from Indian travel market


Thanks



007
007

amazing

Nina B
Nina B

Many of your exhibitions are closed. Your website is clearly not regularly updated.