Great exhibitions in South Kensington

Great exhibitions in South Kensington, London. Experience life on mars, see extraordinary art, marvel at stunning wildlife photography, follow the evolution of cars, the magical world of Tim Walker and so much more.

Free

Driverless: Who is in control?

Til 5 January 2021
10.00–18.00
Science Museum
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Technology developers are racing to create fully autonomous machines with the ability to make decisions on their own. How many of these smart machines already exist? And how much control are we willing to transfer to them? Discover more in this cutting-edge exhibition through interactive exhibits, thought-provoking objects and even a retro robot car.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

16 Oct 2020 - 6 June 2021
Mon- Sun 10am-5:50pm
Natural History Museum
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year is now open. Explore the world's best nature photography exhibited on 100 light panels. Go deeper and discover the surprising - and often challenging - stories behind the images during a time of environmental crisis. The exhibition is expected to sell out at weekends, so book in advance to guarantee entry.

Free

Filthy Lucre: Whistler's Peacock Room Reimagined

Until Sunday 29 Nov 2020
V&A
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If you haven't seen it already, don't miss this wonderful and immersive installation by contemporary artist Darren Waterston. His detailed and decadent interpretation of James Abbott McNeill Whistler's famed Peacock Room, a sumptuous 19th-century interior, will leave you in awe.

Free

Formafantasma: Cambio

29 Sep — 15 Nov 2020
10am-6pm
Serpentine Galleries
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Don't miss Formafantasma's major design exhibition Cambio, now in its final weeks. Explore wood production across the world, from the Amazon and an oak forest in Virginia, to the V&A's archives and Kew Gardens here in London. Mid-week is the perfect time to take a walk in nature and experience art. Visit the Serpentine in Kensington Gardens this week and do both - for free!

Bags! Inside Out

From Sat 21 Nov 2020
Wed-Sun 11am-7pm
V&A
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From rucksacks to despatch boxes, Birkin bags to Louis Vuitton luggage, Bags! will explore the style, function, design and craftsmanship of the ultimate accessory.

Prada. Front and Back

September 2020
Design Museum Kensington
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The exhibition will offer unprecedented insight into Prada’s creative approach, inspirations and landmark collaborations.

Epic Iran

Opening Sat 13 Feb 2021
Wed-Sun 11am-7pm
V&A
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Exploring 5,000 years of art, design and culture, Epic Iran will shine a light on one of the greatest historic civilisations, its journey into the 21st century and its monumental artistic achievements, which remain unknown to many.

Free

Designer Maker User

Open daily
10am - 6pm
Design Museum Kensington
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Designer Maker User, the Design Museum's only permanent exhibition, features almost 1000 items of twentieth and twenty-first century design viewed through the angles of the designer, manufacturer and user, including a crowdsourced wall.

Victoria: A Royal Childhood

Advance booking required
10:30am-5:pm; last admission 4pm
Kensington Palace
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Discover the story of Princess Victoria, the young girl destined to be queen, in the rooms where she was born and raised at Kensington Palace. Explore how an indulged young princess blossomed into the independent and iconic monarch we remember.

Engineer your future

Science Museum
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Could you shape the world we live in? Find out if you've got the problem-solving, big-thinking, team-working skills to be a globe-trotting engineer of tomorrow.

Free

Mathematics: The Winton Gallery

Wednesday–Sunday:
10am-6pm (last entry 5:15pm)
Science Museum
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Mathematics is too often perceived as dry and complex, but this new gallery will tell stories that place the subject at the heart of our lives, exploring how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the modern world.

Human Evolution

Daily
Natural History Museum
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Meet your ancient relatives, trace the origins and evolution of our species, and explore what makes us human.

Europe 1600-1815

Daily
V&A
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Showcasing over 1100 objects from the V&A’s collections of 17th- and 18th-century European art and design in a suite of seven galleries.

Lee Ufan: Relatum - Stage

From Feb 2018
Serpentine Galleries
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Artist Lee Ufan brings new public sculpture to Kensington Gardens. Comprised of two, angled, mirrored, steel sheets and two different-sized stones, Relatum – Stage will merge the natural and industrial in an installation that reflects the surrounding environment of the Park.

Free

The Last Straw

From 2nd Oct
10am-6pm
Design Museum Kensington
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IKEA and the Design Museum present the Last Straw, an installation featuring the last ever single-use plastic straw IKEA will serve or sell in any store in the UK and Ireland.

Free

Violet Data Dawn

Daily Closed Mondays
10am-6pm
Serpentine Galleries
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Utilising various media, including video, the internet, interactive technologies, photography, drawing, painting and watercolour, Suzanne Treister explores emerging technologies, alternative belief systems and potential human futures through a newly commissioned book and web-based augmented reality work.

Science City 1550–1800: The Linbury Gallery

Opens 12th Sept
Science Museum
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Discover how London grew from a lively capital city to a global hub for trade, commerce, and scientific enquiry between 1550 - 1800. This new free gallery spanning over 650 m² takes visitors on a journey through the metropolis during a time of momentous change.

Free
Family

Mission to Mercury: Bepi Colombo

Daily
10.00–18.00
Science Museum
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Come face-to-face with a full-size engineering model of BepiColombo, the European Space Agency’s first ever spacecraft to explore Mercury. Standing over six metres tall, this Structural Thermal Model (STM) of the spacecraft was used to test BepiColombo’s resilience during its seven-year journey to Mercury.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

Opening Sat 27 March 2021
Wed-Sun 11am-7pm
V&A
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Exploring its origins, adaptations and reinventions over 157 years, this immersive and theatrical show charts the evolution of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from manuscript to a global phenomenon beloved by all ages.

Free Online

Teikūhikō – High Resolution Tour

Online
Japan House London
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For a limited time only discover Japan in depth and detail through this Teikūhikō series. Created by Japan House London’s Creative Adviser, Hara Kenya, Teikūhikō is not about aeroplane travel. It is a combination of beautiful videos, articles and photographs introducing spots that Hara has specially selected, posing the question to visitors, “What do you think of this kind of Japan?”.

Hidden Histories of Exploration

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
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When we think about the history of exploration, we often imagine it as the work of exceptional individuals in extraordinary circumstances. Men and women venturing forth on some incredible journey, a fundamentally collective and shared experience. This wonderful online exhibition draws on images of exploration since 1800.

Free

Asante Goldweights

Until 31 October 2021
10am-5pm
V&A
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Asante gold court regalia is richly symbolic of an economy centred on the gold trade. Small brass goldweights were shaped to express proverbs encouraging honesty, integrity and the need to leave a legacy of good deeds. This display highlights contested heritage: some items were taken by British troops when they raided the Asante capital, Kumasi, in 1874 in conflicts over gold-trading ports.

Free

The 2019/20 First Plinth Award

28 Sept-4 Dec Mon-Fri
The Royal Society of Sculptors
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First Plinth: Public Art Award (formerly FIRST@108: Public Art Award) is designed to offer sculptors an opportunity to extend their practice into competing for public art commissions. The sculpture terrace will feature new work by the 2019 winner, Fabio Lattanzi Antinori, examining how digital technology and online communication are affecting the way we view the world and relate to one another.

Content Provider

Til 4 December Mon-Fri
11am-5pm
The Royal Society of Sculptors
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The exhibition explores labour conditions under capitalism and focuses on a series of gargoyles made of white tack. The artist stole this material from the office supplies cupboard of his freelance employer and secretly sculpted them at his desk. Dozens of grotesque monsters were produced in this way.

Formafantasma: Cambio

Book your free timed entry slot
Tue-Sun 10am-6pm
Serpentine Galleries
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Just up the road at the Serpentine Galleries, Formafantasma returns with Cambio, a multi-sensory exhibition that explores everything to do with trees from its molecular structure to forest legends. Unpicking ideas about design, ecology and sustainability, it even includes specimens from Kew that were first exhibited at the Great Exhibition in 1851 right here in Hyde Park.

Free

On Point: Royal Academy of Dance at 100

From 2 December 2020
Wed-Sun 11am-6pm
V&A
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Explore the 100-year history of the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance. Discover a host of costume, designs, film and unique material from the last century including shoes worn by Dame Darcey Bussell DBE at her 2007 farewell performance.

Image credit: Ian Davenport Albertopolis Fantasy
Free Online

Fantasies of Exhibition Road

Online
Imperial College London
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See South Kensington in a whole new light as it is transformed by a selection of artists re-imagining spaces along Exhibition Road in Albertopolis, where the Great Exhibition Road Festival takes place. The artists were inspired by conversations with scientists at Imperial College London on mental health and wellbeing research to create digital dreams of these iconic places.

Family

Brass, Steel and Fire

22 Oct - 3 May 2021
Wed-Sun 10am-6pm
Science Museum
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Discover the beauty of locomotive engineering and journey through 100 years of model-making at the Science Museum’s free exhibition. Brass, Steel and Fire highlights the great age of experimentation when vicars, lace makers and engineers breathed life into hissing, steaming miniature locomotives.

Free

The Raphael Cartoons

Reopening 14 Nov 2020
Wed-Sun 11am-7pm
V&A
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Rediscover the V&A’s Raphael Court - home to the iconic Raphael Cartoons - reopening on 14 November. Following an extraordinary refurbishment, gain a new understanding of the ingenuity of Raphael and explore the fascinating history of a Renaissance treasure. They were commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X for the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel and depict the lives of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul – Fathers of the Christian church. The Cartoons have been on loan to the V&A from Her Majesty The Queen since 1865.

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers

Until 14 Feb 2021
Mon-Thurs & Sun 10am-6:30pm Fri & Sat 10am-9pm
Design Museum Kensington
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Evoking the experience of being in a club, this exhibition will transport you through the people, art, design, technology and photography that have been shaping the electronic music landscape. Celebrate 50 years of legendary group Kraftwerk with their 3D show. Step into the visual world of The Chemical Brothers for one of their legendary live shows, as visuals and lights interact to create a new three-dimensional experience by Smith & Lyall. Travel to dance floors from Detroit to Chicago, Paris, Berlin and the UK’s thriving scene and indulge your senses with Andreas Gursky’s images, iconic DJ masks and fashion, a soundtrack by French DJ and producer Laurent Garnier and a sound reactive visual installation created specifically for the exhibition.

Free

The Cost of Your Words

The Royal Society of Sculptors
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Just down the road at the Royal Society of Sculptors, award-winning artist Fabio Lattanzi Antinori has transformed the terrace with a bold digital display. The Cost of Your Words is a bold digital sculpture which displays the current cost of keywords captured from Google searches in and around South Kensington, making a statement from the unexpected associations of words and their relevance in today's society. Step inside this gem of a gallery for Content Provider by Jeremy Hutchinson and you’ll never look at the office in quite the same way again.

Image credit: © Yoda Hiroshi
Free

Design for Man’s Best Friend

Until 10 January 2021
Mon-Thurs 11am-6pm; Fri-Sat 11am-7pm; Sun 12noon-6pm
Japan House London
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Internationally acclaimed ‘Architecture for Dogs’ features 16 works by globally-renowned architects, all designed with pooches in mind. Culture and dog lovers alike can explore the pieces, which include a bulb-lit vanity mirror for Poodles, a fluffy cloud-like structure for a Bichon Frise to match its fur, and a seesawing kennel for playful Beagles. Small dogs on leads welcome, with interactive pieces too.

Free Online

Go digital: Great Exhibition Road Festival at home

From 16 October 2020
Online
Discover South Kensington
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Celebrate science and the arts at home with a year-round programme of online events from organisations across South Kensington. This month. peek behind the curtain with a magician helping surgeons develop new skills and explore how arts engagement affects mental and social wellbeing.

Design Museum Kensington Reopens 31 July 2020

Design Museum Kensington
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The museum will be partially open to the public with the exhibition Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers from Friday 31 July 2020. Your visit is going to be a bit different. You will need to pre-book your tickets online and new measures have been introduced to ensure all visitors and staff can feel safe.

Connected

11 Sept - 11 Oct
1-30 Sept 10am-6:30pm Mon-Sat | 10am-9pm Thur-Sun
Design Museum Kensington
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Connected is an experiment which set out to explore how designers and craftspeople adapted their working practices during lockdown. Nine international designers have been challenged to create a table and seating, that is personal to them, for home living and working.

Online

Google Arts & Culture: The Science Museum

Science Museum
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Striving to be the best place in the world for people to enjoy science, the Science Museum's world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Explore the museum's exhibitions and online collections.

Google Arts & Culture: V&A

Explore online the world's leading museum of art and design - the V&A enriches people's lives by promoting the practice of design and increasing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world.

Online

Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries Online Collection

Science Museum
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With five vast and visually stunning galleries containing more than 3,000 medical artefacts, striking artworks, interactive games and immersive experiences, Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries brings the history of medicine to life. Take a closer look at what's on display in the Collection Online

Online

Google Arts & Culture: The Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum
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Explore a story of natural history discovery in an interactive experience, Making Natural History, Dive into the museum's 80 million specimens, encounter a prehistoric marine reptile in virtual reality, discover pioneering Museum research, navigate the galleries in 360 degrees & take a tour of exhibits tackling natural history themes,

Life Through a Royal Lens

Opening March 2021
Kensington Palace
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For almost 200 years the medium of photography has created an unprecedented intimacy between Sovereign and subjects. The new display explores the British Royal Family’s enduring relationship with the camera. Going on display at Kensington Palace for the first time will also be a selection of images taken by Royal Family members themselves

Fantastic Beasts and the Wonder of Nature

Opens 9 December 2020
Monday-Sunday 10am-5:50pm (last entry 5pm)
Natural History Museum
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Discover where the real and wizarding worlds intertwine, and how the wonders of the natural world have inspired myths, legends and magical creatures for generations. 

This Time Last Year

Discover South Kensington
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This time last year hundreds of staff, students and volunteers were getting ready to host the Great Exhibition Road Festival. We’re sorry Covid-19 means we can’t do it all again this year but it means we’re even more excited about 2021. Meanwhile, relive some of the highlights of last year here.

Serpentine Galleries re-open 4 August with Cao Fei: Blueprints

Serpentine Galleries
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The Serpentine's phased re-opening begins on 4th August with Cao Fei's immersive Blueprints, exploring her ability to create virtual worlds, navigate physical and virtual spaces, and considers the changing landscapes of cities in China and beyond. The exhibition is free but booking in advance is essential. Tickets available later this month.

Online

V&A Illustration Awards 2020 Results

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Awards. From imaginary worlds and fairy-tales to the difficult reality of life in a refugee camp, the winners of this year's awards demonstrate the versatility and breadth of contemporary illustration.

Ticket Mate Fund

Design Museum Kensington
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The Design Museum has launched a new pay it forward scheme in partnership with local charities, including The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, that distributes free exhibition tickets in the local community. Launched to coincide with the partial reopening of the museum on 31st July, it is aimed at offering free access to the museum's temporary exhibitions to young people and adults in the local community for whom price might be a barrier to participation - including those most affected by the Coronavirus crisis.

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Echo Peel by Caroline Achaintre

The Royal Society of Sculptors
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Caroline Achaintre's recently installed Echo Peel on The Royal Society of Sculptors' terrace, has gained extra meaning during lockdown as we adjust to wearing face masks and coverings in our daily lives. The French-born artist describes the hand knotted rafia sculptor as "fragile but also a protective layer" the two holes resembling eyes, looking out and looking in.