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'Mosaic Virus'. Image for 'AI: More Than Human' at Barbican. © Anna Ridler

Nine museum exhibitions not to miss in 2019

Kickstart 2019 with a resolution to visit more museums. Here’s our guide to the best shows to look forward to this year

By Rosemary Waugh
'Christian Dior with model Sylvie' (circa 1948). Image courtesy of Christian Dior

1. ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’

The V&A goes bigger than a post-war circle skirt with this massive retrospective of Christian Dior. Famous for the ‘New Look’, which threw out wartime austerity in favour of tiny waists and more, more, more fabric, Dior’s creations are the fuel of fantasy. This is the biggest fashion exhibition the South Kensington museum has staged since the hugely popular ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ in 2015 and, like a Dior catwalk model, it looks hot.

V&A. Feb 2-Jul 14. £20-£24.

Katie Wilson 'Bedrooms of London - Amelie' (2017) © Katie Wilson

2. ‘Bedrooms of London’

This sobering exhibition of a new documentary photography series by Katie Wilson captures the homes of some of London’s poorest children. With affordable housing a huge problem in the capital, these images show what the 700,000 kids below the poverty line are having to cope with. A timely and fitting show for the museum of the Foundling Hospital, an institution that was established to look after abandoned children.

Foundling Museum. Feb 8-May 5. £10, £7.50 concs.

'Photograph of William Marriot' in Pearson’s Magazine. Image from the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, Senate House Library, University of London

3. ‘Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic’

Gather your newt eyes, fetch the cauldron and dust down the tarot cards: the Wellcome Collection has a new exhibition exploring the psychology behind magic. Learn about the vital role of the female assistant to a magician (‘Quick, look at the pretty lady! Ooooh where’s the card gone?’ etc), study a ghost-detection kit and marvel at the head of a gorilla costume once worn by Derren Brown. A show to visit with your weird sisters.

Wellcome Collection. Apr 11-Sep 15. Free.

A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick (1970-71; GB:United States). Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) in the Korova Milkbar. Still image. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

4. ‘Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition’

A must-see exhibition for fans of iconic filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Famous for ‘A Clockwork Orange’, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Dr Strangelove’ and others, the director’s movies involve some of the most ambitious sets ever created. See props, costumes, photographs and other memorabilia at the Design Museum.

Design Museum. Apr 26-Sep 17. £16, £12 concs.

'AI: More Than Human 2065 (preview)' by Lawrence Lek. Image courtesy of the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London

5. ‘AI: More than Human’

Think you’re clever? Be prepared for a bit of a knock to your confidence with this interactive exhibition at the Barbican. The show brings together the latest in artificial intelligence, calmly showing how the cleverest (or maybe stupidest) thing humans have ever done is create machines that already outwit us all.

Barbican. May16-Aug 26. £11-£15.

'honey & bunny' (Sonja Stummerer & Martin Hablesreiter) Daisuke Akita

6. ‘Food: Bigger than the Plate’

In an era where it’s not worth eating if it’s not worth Instagramming, it’s hardly surprising that the V&A is doing an exhibition on food, glorious food. But while a visual feast of actual feasts awaits, the real point of this show is to suss out how our avocado and almond milk habits are screwing up the Earth. Much like the V&A’s 2018 blockbuster ‘Fashioned from Nature’, this exhibition dares to imagine a time when trees, animals and rivers aren’t always the losers. Food for thought, right there.

V&AMay 18-Oct 20. £tbc.

Higashimura Akiko 'Princess Jellyfish' © Akiko Higashimura : Kodansha Ltd

7. ‘Manga’

The biggest manga exhibition to have ever been held outside of Japan, this show charts the history of the Japanese art form and demonstrates how it’s grown into a multi-billion pound industry, taking in gaming, cosplay and anime, plus the cultural phenomenon/seriously annoying activity known as ‘Pokémon Go’. Visitors can try on cosplay outfits and head inside a special video booth to be manga-fied.

British Museum. May 23-Aug 26.  £19.50, £16 concs.

'Jacob's Island, Rotherhithe' (1887) © Jason Lawson Stewart Museum of London

8. ‘Secret Rivers’

The Thames is one of the most iconic features of London, but it’s actually one of many rivers to flow through the city. Still, rivers – it turns out – really do run deep. Along with visible ones like the Lea and Wandle, there are also several ‘hidden’ rivers travelling underneath the city streets. This fascinating exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands features items dredged up from the various different waterways, plus contemporary art inspired by the rivers.

Museum of London Docklands. May 24-Oct 27. Free.

Mars by NASA

9. ‘Mars’

Bored of Brexit? Tired of Trump? Had it with hearing about how humanity has destroyed the rainforests/rivers/reindeer and so forth? Well, never mind. Soon it will all be over and we can move to a (fingers-crossed) friendlier corner of the solar system. To get with the space age programme, the Design Museum is showcasing inventions connected to every stage of the most ambitious version of ‘Relocation, Relocation’ ever proposed. 

Design Museum. Oct 16-Mar 1 2020. £tbc.

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