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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 |
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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

The best museum exhibitions in London

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

Smoke and Mirrors: The Psychology of Magic

icon-location-pin Wellcome Collection, Bloomsbury
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For a few glorious months in ’20s America, spiritualists, magicians and scientists were locked in a fevered struggle for the truth about life after death. Escapologist Harry Houdini was hellbent on debunking medium Mina Crandon, so he embarked on a series of experiments trying to replicate the ectoplasm-spouting effects of her seances. But, as the Wellcome Collection’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ ingeniously shows, Houdini and Crandon were spooks of a feathe.

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Image courtesy of V&A
Museums

Mary Quant

icon-location-pin V&A, Brompton
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Mary Quant wanted women to have fun. From underwear they could breathe in to fabrics that didn’t disintegrate in one wash and mascara that wouldn’t give them panda-eye, Quant’s namesake brand allowed its customers to look hot without really trying. Ergo: I woke up like this. The V&A’s major exhibition of the London-born designer skips its way through the trajectory of her career before alighting on the things Quant made iconic.

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Nutcracker in shape of Fagin © Jewish Museum London
Museums

Jews, Money, Myth

icon-location-pin Jewish Museum, Camden Town
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Countless accusations have been lobbed at Jews over the millennia. They’re money-grabbing, hooked-nosed Christ-killers who control global finances, Hollywood and the music industry. Stereotypes prevail, and the Jewish Museum is trying to tackle the big one: money. 

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© Corita Kent. Image courtesy of the House of Illustration
Art

Corita Kent: Power Up

icon-location-pin House of Illustration, King's Cross
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Corita Kent: there were none like her. That’s one pun I’m not going to apologise for, because Sister Corita Kent liked to have fun with words. And she liked to tell the truth with them and that sentence is also true: there were none quite like her, as this exhibition of flamboyantly coloured prints at the House of Illustration shows. 

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Cecil Beaton 'Princess Margaret' (1949) © Cecil Beaton, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Museums

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

icon-location-pin V&A, Brompton
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If you’re looking for a one-word review of the V&A’s Christian Dior exhibition then here it is: fantasy. As spelled out by its own subtitle – ‘Designer of Dreams’ – this blockbuster showcase of a globally famous fashion label is about clothes and the imagination.  

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Mary Quant outside her shop Bazaar on the Kings Road, 1960s. Vintage Publicity Photograph, Courtesy of a Private Collection
Museums

Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution

icon-location-pin Fashion and Textile Museum, London Bridge
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Centred on fashion designer Mary Quant and Habitat founder Terence Conran, this show shines a light on domestic life from 1952-1977, showing how knives and forks changed as much as knickers and frocks. 

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© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Art

Russia: Royalty & The Romanovs

icon-location-pin The Queen's Gallery, St James's Park
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There’s an episode in Matthew Weiner’s series, ‘The Romanoffs’, where descendants of Russia’s last royal family get together on a cruise ship and re-enact the glory days of grand balls and staged entertainment. Those with Romanov DNA lap it up, while two married-in relations find the entire event slightly perplexing. Russia, Royalty and the Romanovs, a new exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, has the potential to inspire a similar division of response. 

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© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Art

Shadows of War: Roger Fenton's Photographs of the Crimea 1855

icon-location-pin The Queen's Gallery, St James's Park
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In 1855, Roger Fenton arrived in the Crimea on a commission from publisher Thomas Agnew & Sons to photograph scenes and figures from the ongoing Crimean War. After he returned to London, the images were exhibited at four venues in the capital and… that was it. There hasn’t been a London show of Fenton’s creations since 1856. 

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