As well as the grand reopening of the inside of pubs and restaurants on May 17th, the other cultural treasure we've been missing during lockdown were museums and galleries — luckily they also reopened on the same day.
No other city in the UK has the same level of must-see exhibitions, art gallery openings and museums as London and with freedom about to be restored on the 21st June — in accordance with the government's roadmap out of lockdown — there's no better time to get planning a culturally-rich year of the best the art and design world has to offer.
From the royal exhibition on everyone's lips — with Princess Diana's iconic wedding dress now on display at Kensington Palace — to a living forest display at Somerset House and an immersive Van Gogh art experience; there's plenty of exhibitions in London to get stuck into this summer and beyond.
So while you're planning out your 2021 calendar, be sure to book into some of these sought-after exhibitions — the best the capital has to offer.
Best exhibitions to see in London this summer:
Royal Style in the Making
In the newly-conserved historic Orangery at Kensington Palace a temporary exhibition is now open, exploring the intimate relationship between fashion designer and royal client, showcasing a number of important couture commissions from royal history — including Princess Diana's infamous wedding dress.
The dress is on display to the public for the first time at Kensington Palace, as well as a rare, surviving toile from the 1937 coronation gown of The Queen Mother.
Where? The Orangery, Kensington Palace
When? Now until 2nd January 2022
Van Gogh - The Immersive Experience
'Have you ever dreamt of stepping into a painting? Now you can!'
That's the intriguing tagline of this immersive experience of the famous dutch artist. Featuring a 20,000 square foot light and sound spectacular, with two-storey projections of his most compelling works. Step inside and witness The Starry Night or Sunflowers series on a scale that will transport you to another world.
Where? 106 Commercial Street, London. E1 6LZ
When? From October 2021
Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser
Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show takes a trip through 156 years of retellings, charting the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — from book manuscript to the global phenomenon loved by all today.
From original illustrations used in the 1951 Disney animation, costumes from the Royal Ballet production, and displays charting its impact on modern-day pop art and fashion.
Where? Victoria and Albert museum
When? Now until 31st December 2021
Beano: The Art of Breaking The Rules
The UK’s longest-running children’s comic book is coming to Somerset House this autumn. With an exhibition celebrating the 4,000-issue comic, its artwork and its history — with displays of contemporary artists that have been influenced by Dennis the Menace and friends.
All the old Beano gang will be there, from Dennis and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, Bananaman and the Bash Street Kids – taken from from the Beano’s archive.
Where? Somerset House
When? 21st October 2021 - 6th March 2022
Forest for Change
Originally due to take place in 2020, but postponed due to the pandemic, The London Design Biennale is back for summer 2021, with the theme of 'resonance' this year.
A series of innovative installations curated Es Devlin will be shown, but the main attraction will be a 400-tree living forest taking over the courtyard at Somerset House for the month of June — aimed at highlighting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Where? Somerset House
When? Now until 27th June 2021
The Art of Banksy
Although not officially sanctioned by Banksy, this new Covent Garden exhibition will features dozens of works by the infamous political street artist, from 1997-2008. It'll be the world's largest private collection, featuring well-known pieces — including Girl and Balloon, Flower Thrower and Rude Copper alongside some of Bristol-born Banksy’s lesser known masterpieces — on loan from private collectors.
Where? 50 Earlham Street, Covent Garden
When? Now until 21st November 2021
Sneakers Unboxed: Studio to Street
'Know your Air Jordans from your Air Force 1s?' — the exhibition asks. Then head on down to the London Design Museum this summer and delve into the world of the most famous sports shoe—turned fashion staple on the planet.
Discover how certain sneakers have become cultural symbols of our times, some producing subcultures of their own — remember the iconic collaborations that have shaped the sneaker scene over the years and take a journey through the design process behind some of the most technically inventive shoes of today.
Where? Design Museum
When? Now until 24th October 2021
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