Artlyst Chooses the Best London Museum Exhibitions for the holiday season 2016

If you finally have time on your hands to catch up on all the exhibitions now on in London, here’s our handy 2 part guide to what’s on.  We are very fortunate to have free admission to public galleries to see their permanent collections. Museums only charge for their temporary exhibitions and if you have a membership, then exhibitions are also free.  Please check with each venue for their opening times over the Christmas holiday period.

Tate Modern

First, what’s on for Free (all the exhibitions if you’re a member of Tate)

On show at the Turbine Hall is Philippe Parreno’s Hyundai Commission with an installation combining sound, video and floating fish

If you haven’t yet visited the Switch House extension now’s your chance with the best free viewing platform of London’s skyline.

Secondly, Tate Modern exhibitions.

Wilfredo Lam exhibition is on until 8 January 2017.  His work lies between East and West, Surrealism and tradition, African and the Caribbean, Europe and America.

£16 adult concessions apply free for Tate members

Read Edward Lucie-Smith’s review

Robert Rauschenberg – his first posthumous retrospective showing how he blazed a new trail for art in the second half of the twentieth century bridging the gap between abstract expressionism and pop art.

£18.50 adult concessions apply Free for Tate members

Read Edward Lucie-Smith’s review

The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection

This really is an astonishing photography collection featuring over 150 works from more than 60 artists the exhibition will consist entirely of rare vintage prints, all created by the artists themselves.

£16.50 adult concessions apply free for Tate members

Tate Britain

Turner Prize 2016

Meanwhile at Tate Britain the exhibition for the Turner Prize 2016 is still on until 2 January 2017 featuring the work of the four shortlisted artists including the recently announced winner Helen Marten

£12 adult concessions apply free for members

Read Edward Lucie-Smith’s review

If the Turner Prize isn’t to your taste then visit the Paul Nash exhibition and see his iconic works of the First World War

£16.50 adult concessions apply free for members

Read Edward Lucie-Smith’s Review

Serpentine Galleries

Lucy Raven – site specific installation including a cinematic space with the animated film Curtains (2014)


Zaha Hadid: Paintings and Drawings

An exhibition of paintings and the rarely seen drawings of the late pioneering and visionary architect Zaha Hadid. 

Design Museum

Design Museum

Interior of new Design Museum

Visit the Design Museum at its new home in Kensington. You can see the permanent collection for free.

Review by Edward Lucie-Smith

exhibition – Fear and Love: Reactions to a complex world

the opening exhibition features eleven new installations by some of the most innovative and thought-provoking designers and architects working today.

£14 adult concessions apply

National Portrait Gallery

Picasso Portraits

This major exhibition of over eighty works focuses on the artist’s portrayal of family, friends and lovers

Adult £19 concessions apply free for members

see Edward Lucie-Smith’s review


Bloomberg New Contemporaries – showcasing new and recent fine art graduates

Day membership set at £1

Whitechapel Gallery

William Kentridge

William Kentridge: Thick Time until 15 January 2017

South African artist William Kentridge is renowned for his animated expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics.

Adult from £11.95 concessions apply free with membership

see photo feature 

National Gallery

Beyond Caravaggio – the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the impact of Caravaggio’s work both on the art of his contemporaries and followers.

Adult £16 concessions apply members free

Review by Edward Lucie-Smith

Barbican Centre

The Vulgar: fashion redefined

the first exhibition to consider this inherently challenging but utterly compelling territory of taste.

adult £14.50 concessions apply 

Bedwyr Williams at The curve, Barbican Centre until 8 January 2017

Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams sends visitors on a quest through the 90-metre long Curve gallery for his first solo show in a public space in London. The gallery is transformed into a series of theatrical installations conceived to transport and disorient the viewer.


Victoria & Albert Museum


You Say you want a revolution? Records & Rebels 1966-70

immersive exhibition exploring the optimism, ideals and aspirations of the late 1960s, expressed through some of the greatest music and performances of the 20th century alongside fashion, film, design and political activism

£16 adult concessions apply free to members

Review by Edward Lucie-Smith

Royal Academy of Arts

Main Galleries

Jackson Pollock,Abstract Eexpressionism

Jackson Pollock, Abstract Expressionism at the RA

Abstract Expressionism

This ambitious and long overdue exhibition brings together some of the finest works associated with the movement from around the world.

Adult £17 concessions apply free to members

review by Edward Lucie-Smith

Sackler wing

Intrigue: James Ensor by Luc Tuymans

The exhibition brings together some 70 paintings, drawings and prints by the artist, the vast majority of which have been drawn from major Belgian collections. 

£11.50 concessions apply free to members

Review by Edward Lucie-Smith

Newport Street Gallery

Gavin Turk: ‘Who What When Where How and Why’ 

Turk’s work focuses on the anti-hero, the recycling of art history, waste and refuse, the signature and the painted bronze.


See Edward Lucie-Smith’s review

The Courtauld Gallery

Rodin and Dance,The Courtauld Gallery

Dancer by Rodin

Rodin & Dance: The Essence of Movement

the first major exhibition in the UK to explore Auguste Rodin’s fascination with dance and bodies captured in extreme acrobatic poses. 

Adult £9.50 concessions apply

Read the review

Sir John Soane’s Museum

Robert Adam’s London

Discover a vision for London by one of Britain’s greatest architects. 


Related Posts

Rainsongs, the new book by Sue Hubbard, out now
Open Source Salon with Hauser and Wirth - A new monthly discussion group
Advertise your next show on Artlyst from £200 per week