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!
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.
24th January – 26th April 2020. Exhibition entrance included with admission.
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.
4th February – 19th April 2020. Adult tickets £16. Please check website for concessions.
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.
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.
3rd April – 31st August 2020. Check website for ticket details.
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.
10th April – 31st August 2020. Included in palace admission.
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.
12th March – 7th June 2020. Adult tickets £20. Check website for concessions.
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.
4th April – 26th July 2020. Adult tickets £18. Check website for concessions.
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.
27th June 2020 – 10th January 2021. More details expected soon.
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.
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.
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.
15th Oct 2020 – 14th Feb 2021. More details expected soon.
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.