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Best museum exhibitions in London

From blockbuster shows at iconic museums to exhibits in quirkier spaces, catch the best museum exhibitions in London on now.
Four men, dressed in black, stand at black podiums on a black stage, set against a bright red background featuring four larger figures.
Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers at the Design Museum. Image credit: Peter Boettcher. Image courtesy of the Design Museum.

Although some museums are still temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, many museums in London are reopening with new exhibitions to enjoy.

If you’re in London, walk or cycle to your local museum – just remember to maintain social distancing while there. Each of the reopened spaces has introduced measures to ensure your safety and many require you to book a time slot in advance for entry. Check with the individual venues in advance.

If you’re not currently in the capital, you can still enjoy culture from your couch with our pick of virtual London museum exhibitions, all for free!

Reopened and new London exhibitions

Ready to venture out for your cultural fix? Walk or cycle to the museums closest to you, as they open their doors once more.

Central London

Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A

If you didn’t get round to see the Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk exhibition at the V&A before lockdown, now is your chance to check it out once more. Discover rooms full of exquisite examples of kimonos, and learn all about the history of the clothing and its importance in Japanese culture. 27 Aug-29 Nov

London Calling at Museum of London

Delve into music history with one of the most famous albums of all time. The Clash’s legendary London Calling album is put in the spotlight by the Museum of London, with personal items from band members, lyrics, images and more. Download the free Smartify app to access the exhibition virtually. Until 6 Sep

Nightingale in 200 Objects, People and Places at Florence Nightingale Museum

Celebrate the bicentenary of the “Lady of the Lamp’s” birth with a special reopened exhibition at Florence Nightingale Museum. Take a journey through the pioneer’s life and work with 200 of her most treasured objects put under the spotlight in Nightingale in 200 Objects, People and Places: Leader, Icon and Pioneer. Until 7 Mar

If you’re not near the South Bank, discover the 200 exhibits from home.

Driverless: Who is in control? at the Science Museum

From self-driving cars to smart underwater vehicles like the Autosub Long Range 'Boaty McBoatface', explore how increasingly sophisticated and autonomous machines have become and what living in an artificial intelligence-driven world could look like, with Driverless: Who is in control? at the Science Museum. 19 Aug-5 Jan

Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media at the Foundling Museum

Discover how artists have portrayed the pregnant female body throughout history at the Foundling Museum’s reopened exhibition Portraying Pregnancy: from Holbein to Social Media. Study rare portraits on the subject alongside clothing and objects, and learn how attitudes to pregnancy have changed through time, at this Bloomsbury hidden gem. Until 23 Aug

Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company at the Wallace Collection

Celebrate the legacy of Indian master painters from the late 18th and early 19th centuries at the Wallace Collection. Works by artists such as Shaikh Zain ud-D, Bhawani Das and Ghulam Ali Khan come together in the Marylebone museum’s extended exhibition Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company, featuring everything from nature to the Anglo-Indian society of the time. Until 13 Sep

Derek Jarman: My Garden’s Boundaries are the Horizon at the Garden Museum

Gain some gardening inspiration at Lambeth’s Garden Museum, as new exhibition Derek Jarman: My Garden’s Boundaries are the Horizon delves into the film director’s artistic works and the coastal garden created next to his windswept home, Prospect Cottage in Dungeness. Until 20 Sep

Refugees: Forced to Flee at the Imperial War Museum

Put yourself in the shoes of families fleeing from war over the past century as you view recordings, photographs, pieces of art and documents telling stories of thousands forced to make tough decisions due to conflict in Refugees: Forced to Flee at the Imperial War Museum. The exhibition includes personal accounts and research from across the world exploring journeys made between WW1 to this day. From 24 Sep

North London

RAF Photographer of the Year at the Royal Air Force Museum London

If you’re in north London, take your squad to the Royal Air Force Museum for its RAF Photographer of the Year exhibition. Displayed outside, near the museum’s entrance, this fascinating collection of the competition’s winning entries gives a glimpse into the RAF with intimate shots of its operations, equipment and daily life. Ongoing

South London

Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs at Horniman Museum & Gardens

Listen up south Londoners! You can go face to face with fearsome fossils and prehistoric creatures, as Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs brings awe-inspiring animatronics, skeletons and full-scale models to Forest Hill’s Horniman Museum & Gardens. Until 3 Jan

East London

The Krios of Sierra Leone at the Museum of London Docklands

Explore the largely untold story of the Krio people at the Museum of London DocklandsThe Krios of Sierra Leone exhibition. Learn about the history, heritage and culture of the Krio community through a mix of contemporary objects from Krio Londoners and 19th-century objects from British colonial rule in Sierra Leone. Until 14 Mar

West London

Victoria: A Royal Childhood at Kensington Palace

Learn more about Queen Victoria in Kensington Palace's special exhibition marking 200 years since the monarch’s birth. Victoria: A Royal Childhood looks at a young Princess Victoria through treasured childhood items, such as a scrapbook given to her by her governess Baroness Lehzen, and charts her rise to an independently minded queen. Ongoing

Virtual exhibitions to enjoy at home

If you’re not in London, you can still soak up the city’s culture with these free exhibitions to enjoy from your home. Just sit back, log on and explore exhibits from some of London’s top museums.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the British Library

From J.K. Rowling’s early sketches and illustrator Jim Kay’s creations, to lessons in Muggle Magic, Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition puts the famous wizard and his craft under the spotlight with a Google Arts & Culture online exhibition previously held at the British Library.

Natural History Museum's digital exhibitions

Access 14 virtual exhibitions from the Natural History Museum, which span butterflies to dinosaurs and most things in between. You can also take virtual tours of key spaces, say hello to Hope the whale and even let Sir David Attenborough guide you through Hintze Hall – all from the comfort of your sofa!

Queer+ Croydon at Museum of Croydon

Trace the past and present history of the LGBT+ community in Croydon with the Museum of Croydon, as artist Mark Goldby shares his in-depth research in a series of themed exhibits every two weeks. Queer+ Croydon features artefacts, personal stories and treasured items that relate to how the visibility of the community has changed over time.

Voices from the Deep at The Postal Museum

Discover objects uncovered from a shipwreck with Voices from the Deep, as part of The Postal Museum’s Make a Connection virtual series. Hear accounts from letters sent home by troops in India and discover objects that were being transported by the SS Gairsoppa before it was sunk in 1941 by a German U-boat.

Hidden London Hangouts and Poster Art 150 at London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum’s Hidden London exhibition may be temporarily closed, but its curators and experts are using their talents to highlight hidden spots of the Underground and key facts from the exhibition with weekly Hidden London Hangouts on YouTube.

You can also revisit the museum's Poster Art 150 exhibition online, which features 150 of the most iconic posters from its wide-ranging collection.

Industrial Islington at London Canal Museum

The Regent’s Canal may nowadays be a hub for pleasure boats, but it’s had a long history of industry as well as recreation. Discover how the canal has touched the lives of those living and working along the its banks in Islington with the London Canal Museum’s online exhibition Industrial Islington.

Making the Bridge Sing at Tower Bridge

Enjoy an artist’s take on the true story of a former cook at Tower Bridge, with the online exhibition Making the Bridge Sing. Mixing fantasy with fact, Di Mainstone has created a series of drawings and a film exploring the notion of the bridge singing and nature taking over the London icon.

Discover more cultural highlights with the capital's top art exhibitions and make sure to share your experiences of rediscovering your local cultural gems on social media, using #BecauseImALondoner

Find plenty more things to do when you’re bored at home with our Virtually London guide, from online learning experiences to virtual theatre shows and online gigs.

And don't forget to download the Visit London app for more exhibitions and things to do in London.