In March 2020, the National Portrait Gallery closed its doors to undergo the biggest transformation since it first opened its Trafalgar Square site in 1896. This June, after three years and a refurbishment to the tune of £35m, the gallery reopens complete with a new entrance and bridged walkway on the north facade of the building. The redevelopment also includes a comprehensive redisplay of the museum’s collection — the world’s largest assemblage of portraiture.
In South Kensington, the V&A will open phase two of its Photography Centre on 25 May. There are four new galleries with exhibits ranging from early experimental photography to the modern era. The latest additions make the V&A the UK’s largest permanent space dedicated to photography, showcasing 800,000-plus works acquired since it was founded in 1852.
The major new exhibition, Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece, will explore how priceless antiquities from 550–30 BC, from Afghanistan to Italy, still inform our ideas of luxury today. Among the displays are treasures captured from the royal command tent of the Persian king during the Greco-Persian Wars (499–449 BC), including gold and silver furniture, goblets and jewelled cups. 4 May – 13 August.
Taking place every year since 1769 and with £50,000 worth of prizes awarded, the Summer Exhibition is the world’s oldest open-submission expo. Coordinated by Royal Academicians such as Grayson Perry and Yinka Shonibare, some two-thirds of the works on show are by non-Academicians, which sit alongside established artists such as Tracey Emin, Wim Wenders and David Hockney. 13 June – 20 August.
The colossal titanosaur Patagotitan mayorum is on display for the first time in Europe, at the Natural History Museum. Four times heavier than Dippy the Diplodocus and almost 40ft longer than Hope, the museum’s beloved blue whale, the titanosaur is one of the largest known creatures to have ever walked our planet. Visitors can browse interactive displays and illustrations of Cretaceous plants and animals. To 7 January 2024.
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