Ten museum exhibitions we're excited to see in London in 2016

London's cultural calendar is looking very exciting indeed. Here are our ten picks for the year ahead
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From the history of underwear, to the life-cycle of butterflies, the London calendar of culture is looking very exciting indeed. Here are ten of the top museum exhibitions to catch in 2016. And, if you're looking for more inspiration, check out our list of 101 things to do in London, guaranteed to see you through 2016 and beyond. 

1
Drawing on Childhood
Things to do, Exhibitions

Drawing on Childhood

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Children's literature has a longstanding fascination with characters who have experienced an alternative childhood, whether they've been orphaned, adopted, fostered or found. This exhibition explores the tradition and importance of looked-after children in popular culture, with original drawings, first editions and special illustrated editions of books such as 'James and the Giant Peach', 'Hetty Feather' and 'Rapunzel'.

2
Frederic Leighton, Study of Iphigenia for Cymon and Iphigenia, 1883, Promised Gift from the  Lanigan Collection - ® NGC
Things to do, Exhibitions

Pre-Raphaelites on Paper: Victorian Drawings from the Lanigan Collection

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2016 at Leighton House Museum kicks off with an extensive exhibition featuring over 100 drawings and sketches by the Pre-Raphaelites and their contemporaries organised by the National Gallery of Canada. Pieces on show range from preparatory sketches through to finished drawings exploring landscapes, portraiture, allegories and religious scenes. 

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3
Clangers
Things to do, Exhibitions

The Clangers, Bagpuss & Co.

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Parents can introduce their little ones to the programmes they watched and adored as wee nippers thanks to this retrospective exhibition of Smallfilms - Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin's production company whose fantastic output includes The Clangers, Bagpuss and other creations such as Pogles Wood and Ivor the Engine. 

4
Sensational Butterflies Girl with butterfly
Things to do

Sensational Butterflies

icon-location-pin Brompton
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The Natural History Museum's butterfly house returns where visitors can come face-to-face with tropical butterflies, including the swallowtail, blue morpho, the moon moth and many others originating from Africa, Southeast Asia and North and South America, and take part in games, activities and challenges that teach more about the sensory world of the fluttering creatures. 

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5
Rolling Stones
Music

The Rolling Stones: Exhibitionism

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Following the success of ‘David Bowie Is’, the exhibition about Mick Jagger’s old mucker Dave, the Stones are proudly flaunting all the moss they’ve gathered over the last 50 years with this major expo at the Saatchi Gallery. The band have dug over 5,000 personal bits and bobs out of their mansion attics: photographs, films, posters, stage costumes, guitars, diaries and letters, and more Stones artefacts. Even the biggest lithophiles should be able to get some satisfaction here. 

6
Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear
Things to do, Exhibitions

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear

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Strip back shirts and skirts to focus on the skivvies that shape the body below at this exhibition charting how underwear supports and firms the figure, as well as the sexual and sensual appeal it holds. Around 140 garments and accessories will be on display alongside photographs, films, advertisements and examples of packaging that have changed body ideals over time.

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7
Future Spacecraft
Future Spacecraft © Boeing
Things to do, Exhibitions

Above and Beyond

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Experience the marvellous world of flight and aerospace innovation at 'Above and Beyond', an immersive exhibition offering a look at the past and future of the science behind flight. Expect interactive experiences using flight simulation, augmented reality and virtual reality.

8
The Great Fire of London
© Museum of London
Things to do, Exhibitions

Fire! Fire!

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This exhibition marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London which began on September 2 1666. Rarely seen artefacts sit alongside hands-on exhibits giving visitors a sense of what London would have felt like before, during and after the flames tore through the city. The cause of the fire and how Londoners came together to rebuild the capital are explored and comparisons made between modern and contemporary firefighting methods.

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9
Buckingham Palace Summer Opening The Diamond Diadem
Things to do, Walks and tours

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening

icon-location-pin St James's Park
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Each year there's a special themed exhibition at Buckingham Palace to coincide with the public opening of the State Rooms during August and September. In 2016 (when the Queen will celebrate her ninetieth birthday) the exhibition will be devoted to the royal wardrobe. 'Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe' will use dress, jewellery and accessories to chart royal fashions from the 1920s to the 2010s, highlighting her Maj’s favourite British designers.

10
The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics
© Iconic Images, Alan Aldridge
Things to do, Exhibitions

You Say You Want a Revolution: Records & Rebels 1966-70

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Head back to the psychedelic 1960s and submerse yourself in the fashion, music, film, design and political activism that helped shaped contemporary life. The exhibition centres on the musicians that issued forth from the era as well as great performances gifted to the world by the likes of The Who, Sam Cooke and Jimi Hendrix. Moments that defined the time of huge cultural upheaval will also be charted including the 1968 protests in Paris, World Fairs and Woodstock Festival of 1969.

Find out more about our favourites

Natural History Museum whale
NHM London
Museums

Top 10 museums in London

Let us point you in the direction of the capital's finest museums and galleries, and the exhibitions and events they have to offer right now. 

Things to do

Ballie Ballerson

icon-location-pin Shoreditch

What do one million balls, two private ballpits, a ballpit waterfall and more retro sweetie cocktails than you can shake a stick at make? London’s biggest and best adult ball-pit. That’s what. The folks at Ballie Ballerson have moved shop from their former site in Dalston to Shoreditch’s Curtain Road, to an even bigger space and with even more balls to jump in. Not only does the 4,000ft space pack in a staggering million balls, there’ll also be a huge mirrored cage with a waterfall, and UV murals plastered across the walls. Plus, the bar will be serving kidult-friendly sweet cocktails (think Dibbie Dabberson and Skittle Sour), while DJs pump out deep house and disco into the wee hours.   

Venue says On Thursdays in August it's buy one get one free on cocktails all night!

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