12 Exhibitions You’ve Simply Got To See in 2020

2019 was a GREAT year for exhibitions here in the UK. I was lucky I got to see quite a few of them. However, there was one exhibition that topped them all for me! The Dior: Designer of Dreams Exhibition at The V&A.

But what will 2020 bring? What tickets do you need to be booking now to avoid disappointment? Here’s my pick of the top exhibitions to keep an eye out for this year. Even better, there’s one for every month of the year!

January

Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media at The Foundling Museum, London

What could be a more appropriate way to start a new year than with an exhibition all about new life? Portraying Pregnancy is a major exhibition exploring representations of the pregnant female body through portraits, over 500 years.

Pregnancy is such a major part of women’s life, but yet I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen an historical portrait of a pregnant woman. I’m definitely intrigued and will be paying a visit on my annual trip to London in February.

Portrait of a Woman in Red 1620 Marcus Gheeraerts Copyright – Tate

24th January – 26th April 2020. Exhibition entrance included with admission.

February

British Baroque: Power and Illusion at The Tate Britain, London

Ever since visiting Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, I have slowly started falling in love with the Baroque, a highly ornate and extravagant style of architecture and art.

This new exhibition at the Tate is the first in Britain to explore this overlooked period of art history. Expect grand-scale portraiture by the court painters and epic baroque murals.

Antonio Verrio The Sea Triumph of Charles II c.1674 The Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

4th February – 19th April 2020. Adult tickets £16. Please check website for concessions.

March

Shoephoria! at The Fashion Museum, Bath

If you’ve been following me for a while you will know I have a bit of a passion for fashion history. So I was very excited to hear about The Fashion Museum’s exhibition for 2020. Shoephoria is devoted to the museum’s world-class collection of more than 3000 pairs of shoes.

Royal history fans will be interested in this exhibition too – look out for Queen Victoria’s boots and Queen Mary’s diamante bow shows.

Opens 28th March 2020. Exhibition entrance included with admission.

April

Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

You can’t beat a royal portrait. They’re the original propaganda-filled selfie. And this exhibition will be full of them – 150 of them from across five royal dynasties to be exact!

This exhibition will consist of a lot of loans from The National Portrait Gallery. I’m guessing as the gallery will be shutting in the summer for a three-year refurb we may see some royal portraits take up residence in this exhibition.

Copyright – National Portrait Gallery, London

3rd April – 31st August 2020. Check website for ticket details.

May

Gold and Glory: Henry VIII and the French King at Hampton Court Palace, London

This summer sees the 500th anniversary of The Field of the Cloth of Gold, the famous summit between Henry VIII and Francis I of France in 1520. As you can imagine, Hampton Court Palace is celebrating in style. Part of the celebrations include a new exhibition entitled Gold and Glory: Henry VIII and The French King.

The major new exhibition will star a never-before-seen Tudor tapestry as well as the Stonyhurst vestments, which were selected and taken by Henry VIII to the summit.

Copyright – Royal Collection Trust

10th April – 31st August 2020. Included in palace admission.

June

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things at The National Portrait Gallery, London

As we enter the new Twenties, the National Portrait Gallery are throwing it back to the original Twenties with an exhibition devoted to renowned British photographer Cecil Beaton.

The Bright Young Things was a nickname given by the press to a group of young avant-garde aristocrats and socialites in 1920s Britain. Beaton was friends with many of them and captured them in some stunning photographs.

© Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby’s London.

12th March – 7th June 2020. Adult tickets £20. Check website for concessions.

July

Artemesia at The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery has several exhibitions devoted to some big hitters this year, including the first major exhibition all about Artemisia Gentileschi, the most celebrated female painter of the 17th Century.

At a time when women artists were not easily accepted, Artemisia Gentileschi was the exception. She enjoyed a long career as a painter and was the first woman to gain membership to the artists’ academy in Florence. An exhibition devoted to her work is long overdue.

Copyright – Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

4th April – 26th July 2020. Adult tickets £18. Check website for concessions.

August

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser at The V&A, London

High summer calls for a fun exhibition, and The V&A is delivering with an exhibition devoted to Lewis Carroll’s iconic work of literature Alice in Wonderland.

Expect an ‘immersive and theatrical experience’… And what makes it even more exciting? It will be masterminded by leading theatre designer Tom Piper, best known for the Tower of London poppies.

Credit: Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

27th June 2020 – 10th January 2021. More details expected soon.

September

Prada: Front and Back at The Design Museum, London

After the major success of the Dior exhibition at the V&A last year, we see a retrospective exhibition of the work of Miuccia Prada at The Design Museum.

However, that’s where the similarities will probably end. The Design Museum has already hinted we should expect a very modern exhibition that will include some of the most iconic pieces from the luxury label, including handbags, shoes and items from catwalk collections.

Opening September 2020. More details expected soon.

October

Raphael at The National Gallery, London

Raphael – one of the greatest Renaissance painters alongside Michelangelo and Leonardo.  But did you know he died aged only 37? He only worked for about 20 years and yet shaped the course of Western culture. Makes me question what I’ve done with my life…

This new exhibition marks the 500th anniversary of his death and will explore Raphael’s complete career. With loans from The Louvre, The Vatican and The Uffizi Museum I think we can expect something spectacular at The National Gallery.

3rd October 2020 – 24th January 2021. More details expected soon.

November

Thomas Becket at The British Museum

2020 is the 850th anniversary of the assassination of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. This major exhibition will present Becket’s journey from a London merchant’s son to Archbishop and beyond.

Thomas Becket has only recently been announced so details on what exact artefacts will feature are scarce at the moment. However, given The British Museum’s track record in hosting mind-blowing exhibitions, I am expecting great things.

Copyright – Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

15th Oct 2020 – 14th Feb 2021. More details expected soon.

December

Elizabeth and Mary at The British Library, London

You watched the film – now visit the exhibition. Why not round off the year learning more about the turbulent relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots?

This exhibition is going to feature some AMAZING Tudor artefacts – Elizabeth’s stirring ‘heart and stomach of a king’ speech; the papal bull excommunicating Elizabeth; Mary’s ten-page plea for freedom. This exhibition is a must-see for Tudor history lovers!

Opens October 2020. More details expected soon.

And don’t forget there are still plenty of winter exhibitions to explore before they shortly end. Check out my post here to find out which ones are worth seeing.

Let me know in the comments below which exhibition from 2020 is at the top of your to-visit list.

Exhibitions 2020 Pinterest Cover

 

Comments

  1. Jess @ Jessticulates says

    So many of these look amazing! I have tickets booked for the Artemisia Gentileschi exhibition in April and I’m so excited – she’s one of my favourite artists and I think her work is stunning. There’s a brilliant novel in verse about her by Joy McCullough called Blood Water Paint that I would highly recommend if you haven’t read it, it’s absolutely beautiful.

    • clairemiles says

      Am a bit jealous – would love to see it too but I don’t live close to London. Going in February though for a bit of a trip and am hoping to catch the exhibitions at The Foundling Museum and The Tate.

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