As 2017 gets underway, things are ramping up in South Kensington, with exciting new ventures across museums and galleries in London's Cultural Quarter.
There are big changes afoot at the Natural History Museum, which is set to unveil a new Hintze Hall display in the summer. The museum is saying farewell to Dippy the Dinosaur, who will make way for a gigantic blue whale skeleton. The skeleton will be suspended above the Hintze Hall, plunging towards the visitors below. The whale skeleton will be part of a new summer exhibition at the museum looking at these magnificent sea creatures.
The Natural History Museum will also host several other exciting exhibitions throughout 2017. The well-loved Sensational Butterflies exhibit returns in the summer, and from September a new exhibition, Venom, will explore our fascination with, and medicine's exploitation of nature's poisons.
Just across the road, the V&A is also gearing up for a big year in 2017, kicking off with the appointment of a new Director, former Labor MP Dr Tristram Hunt. 2017 will also see the opening of the new Exhibition Road entrance, as well as a major exhibition focussing on one of the world's most influential bands: The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Immortal Remains. This extraordinary, multi-sensory exhibition will celebrate the influential rock band's journey through the decades and will open in May. The museum also has a number of other fascinating new exhibitions lined up for 2017 including Opera: Passion Power and Politics, Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London and Winnie the Pooh: Exploring a Classic and many more.
The V&A have also collaborated with the Goethe Institut, for the Collecting Europe initiative. The two organisations have commissioned 12 artists to look 2,000 years into the future and imagine what Europe will be like. The project will culminate with a week-long festival in February which will include talks, performances and workshops about Europe, identity and the future.
At Kensington Palace, 2017 sees the opening of Diana: Her Fashion Story. The exhibition will trace the Princess's style throughout her public appearances, and will explore how she used her image to inspire and engage. In the summer, the Palace will also create a temporary 'White Garden' in tribute to the Princess and her love of the Sunken Garden.
For the Serpentine Galleries, 2017 brings exciting new horizons, with the appointment of a new CEO, Yana Peel, in partnership with Hans Ulrich Obrist as Artistic Director. The Galleries are currently home to inspirational exhibitions of Zaha Hadid's works, as well as emerging artist Lucy Raven. In March the two Galleries will welcome new exhibitions from British sculptor and conceptual artist John Lathan, and another by Grayson Perry.
Meanwhile, the Science Museum is getting into robots in 2017. The Robots exhibition, opening in the summer will take visitors on a journey through 500 years of human fascination with robotics and human likeness. With over 100 robots on display and 15 working models, this exhibition will be an exciting addition to the museum.
Of course, 2017 will also see more of the best that South Kensington has to offer. The V&A, Science Museum and Natural History Museum will continue their Late events which will explore topics from crime, to childhood and the digital age. Imperial College also has some great events in store, with the Imperial Festival set to be bigger and better than ever this May.
All in all, 2017 is looking to be a fantastic year to be in South Kensington.
Zaha Hadid, Installation view, Serpentine Sackler Gallery © Zaha Hadid Foundation. Image © 2016 Hugo Glendinning