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Top ten museum exhibitions in London

Check out our pick of the city's best cultural offerings at the top ten museum exhibitions in London

Ayurvedic Man: Encounters with Indian Medicine
Wellcome Collection
By Time Out London editors |
Get ready culture vultures: London’s best museums are home to some cracking exhibitions now, throughout 2018 and beyond. Whatever the day, week or season, there’s always an exciting show in London’s events calendar to delve into, on subjects as varied as ancient history, fashion and the natural world. Here’s our pick of the top ten museum exhibitions on in London right now.
Check out our pick of 7 must-visit London museums:
RECOMMENDED: our full guide to exhibitions in London
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The best museum exhibitions in London

c. The Trustees of the British Museum

Edmund de Waal: Library of Exile

British Museum, Bloomsbury
5 out of 5 stars

It stings the heart, this installation by Edmund de Waal. The ceramicist and author has lined the walls of his room within a room in the British Museum with books by writers in exile. Albert Camus’s ‘Exile and the Kingdom’, Jean Rhys’s ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’. Shelf after shelf of stories written by people far from home, thinking of home.

Untitled, 1974 © Tom of Finland, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection
Art, Drawing and illustration

Tom of Finland: Love and Liberation

House of Illustration, King’s Cross
3 out of 5 stars

Like an (even more) homoerotic version of Batman, Touko Laaksonen lived a double life. By day, he was a pen-pusher at an advertising agency in Helsinki. By night, he was ‘Tom of Finland’, who sketched handsomely uniformed, fantastically muscled men for a thirsty audience of American fans. 

Image courtesy of Victoria & Albert Museum

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk

V&A, South Kensington
4 out of 5 stars

The V&A does an excellent line in fashion exhibitions that are bright, brash, frothy, OTT madness – a mirroring, perhaps, of the atmosphere surrounding most major fashion weeks. So it comes as a surprise, initially, to step inside ‘Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk’ and absorb a calming scene of cool mint walls, plain white ceiling drapes and a fairly traditional layout of glass exhibition cases. 

Adam Faramawy
'Skin Flick' (2019), Still © the artist

Genders: Shaping and Breaking the Binary

Science Gallery, Borough and London Bridge
3 out of 5 stars

Gender is big news. And, like everything that’s ‘big news’, it solicits big reactions. This exhibition at the Science Gallery aims to go beyond the most strident, shouty responses to the topic, showing instead that the very concept of gender is as messy and ungraspable as toothpaste blobbed into the sink. 

Photograph: Museum of Neoliberalism
Museums, History

Museum of Neoliberalism

Leegate Shopping Centre, Lee
4 out of 5 stars

Whatever you take away from the Museum of Neoliberalism, you definitely won’t forget the display ‘Bottle of Amazon employee urine’. According to the museum, it came from a worker in one of the company’s fulfilment centres who passed up a toilet break in order not to fall behind on work targets. It’s just one of the ways this place confronts you with how modern economic structures have trickled down into people’s everyday lives.  Tucked between a laundrette and a hairdressers in an unassuming post-war shopping centre in Lewisham, the museum explains its purpose in a window sign: ‘to look back on neoliberalism, what it has done to our world; and what might lie beyond it’. Turns out, it’s quite scary stuff.  The exhibition, which begins with a display setting out the main players of twentieth-century neoliberalism, has been created by satirical artist Darren Cullen and Gavin Grindon, a lecturer at the University of Essex who curated parts of Banksy’s Dismaland.  Like the suspects board of a detective on the edge, it’s covered in a criss-cross of red string connecting  images of Margaret Thatcher, George W Bush, Tony Blair, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.  You’re then exposed to the ways capitalism has seeped into our lives, from Scouts badges embroidered with oil company logos to a replica of the cladding and insulation at Grenfell Tower.  Regardless of your political persuasion, it’s hard not to be moved. The museum admits that it ‘may seem dispiriting’, but it’ll stoke a

Specimen Florae Britanniae, by Justine Smith, 2019. Botanical sculpture. Image courtesy of the Bank of England Museum.

325 years, 325 objects

Bank of England Museum, Bank
4 out of 5 stars

In the era of Bitcoin speculation, and when a tweet can affect exchange rates, it’s easy to see banking as a kind of sinister virtual miasma swirling around us and settling in the hollows of society. It’s not the whole story, though. The Bank of England is celebrating its 325th birthday with a show of 325 actual physical objects, the result of a (legal) rifling of its own vaults.

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