The Must-See Exhibitions In London This Autumn

must see exhibitions london autumn 2018

Twenty four hours in a city like London is just about enough to get a glimpse of it. Forty eight hours might be slightly better. Still that’s hardly sufficient. But what to do and where to go, when that’s all the time you have? In this post we will share the must-see exhibitions in London this autumn.

While we were in London for the Leading Culture Destinations Awards early autumn, we had some two days to enjoy the city. To make the most of our time, we did a little bit of research in advance. The outcome we will share in this post.

We believe that there are plenty of blogs and website covering London’s main highlights. We won’t go into those. Instead we will focus on what we consider as some of the must-see exhibitions in London this autumn. We have also put some more permanent venues towards the end of this list, as we think these are certainly worth your time too.

For more exhibitions around Europe, keep an eye out on our exhibition page or check out our post with Must-See Exhibitions in The Netherlands.

Frida Kahlo – Making Her Self Up

Victoria & Albert

Until 18 November 2018

This autumn the Victoria & Albert presents a collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. This collection has never before been exhibited outside Mexico and will give you a new perspective on Kahlo’s life story.

Make sure to buy your tickets online in advance. The exhibition has just been extended and there are more tickets, but they will likely sell out fast. Apart from that the V & A seems to hold some tickets apart for early-risers. So in case you haven’t able to secure your tickets, you have another chance by arriving at the museum as one of the first early morning.

Unfortunately tickets were sold out on the days we were in London. We are therefore hoping this exhibition to travel around and one day see it elsewhere.

Yayoi Kusama – The Moving Moment When I Went To The Universe

Victoria Miro

3 October 2018 – 21 December 2018

Are you a fan of Yayoi Kusama too? You’re not the only one, we are as well! We’ll go far to see the artworks of the Japanese artist. Thus, you can imagine the disappointment, when I learned a new exhibition of the artist was about to open at the Victoria Miro just after we left London.

This exhibition features new paintings, including works from the My Eternal Soul series, painted bronze pumpkin and flower sculptures. There will also be a large-scale Infinity Mirrored Room, especially created for this exhibition.

The exhibition is already the twelfth exhibition of the artist at the gallery. So if there’s any place to look first for exhibitions of Yayoi Kusama in London, this does seem to be the place.

I was for shortly considering going to London again, until I heard that also this exhibition was sold out. Some extra tickets might go on sale here as well, so if you are interested to go, make sure to check the Victoria Miro website for updates.

Elmgreen & Dragset – This Is How We Bite Our Tongue

WhiteChapel Gallery

Until 13 January 2019

The Scandinavian artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset is well known for their huge art installations, which often push the borders of the venues they are exhibiting at. At the same time the artist duo puts societal topics to discussion in their art works.

When I heard that an exhibition of the duo just opened at the WhiteChapel gallery, this venue was immediately put the agenda for our art weekend.

The exhibition ‘This Is How We Bite Our Tongue’ features among others the WhiteChapel Pool and some stunning, yet thought-provoking installations like the below one.

Elmgreen Dragset This How We Bite Our Tongue WhiteChapelGallery must-see exhibitions in London

This Is How We Bite Our Tongue, Elmgreen & Dragset, WhiteChapel Gallery.

When you are at the gallery make sure to also have a look at the other exhibitions, which are – contrary to the Elmgreen & Dragset exhibition – free of charge.

Black Mirror – Art As Social Satire

Saatchi Gallery

Until 13 January 2019

The name Saatchi is well-known in the art world, both for its online presence and its own gallery. I was happy to finally made it to the Saatchi Gallery this time in London, after having missed it previous times.

Here the exhibition ‘Black Mirror – Art As Social Satire’ just opened the day we arrived. So we took our chance to see what this was all about. The title does sound a bit dark, doesn’t it?

Wendy Mayer After Louise Saatchi Gallery must-see exhibitions in London

After Louise by Wendy Mayer at Saatchi Gallery, London

With objects that one the one hand make you smile and on the other hand make you think, this was for sure one of the exhibitions we both enjoyed most.

Serpentine Pavilion and The London Mastaba

No longer there?

The Serpentine Pavilion is an initiative of the Serpentine Galleries and is an annual architecture commission taking place close to the galleries themselves.

This year the Pavilion was designed by the Mexican architect Frida Escobedo and it makes a beautiful and playful hideaway in Hyde Park.

Unfortunately the Serpentine Galleries themselves were closed for the next exhibition. So, that one we will keep on our list for next time to visit.

London Mastaba Serpentine Lake Hyde Park London

The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park by Christo & Jeanne-Claude.

Coincidentally when walking through the park, we saw the London Mastaba of Christo and Jeanne-Claude popping-up from the Serpentine Lake. Although it should have been gone as per the galleries’ website, we were happy to see it was still there. We don’t know when it will actually go, so it might be worth to put a visit to Hyde Park on your agenda as well.

Street Art Bricklane

If you would happen to walk in downtown London, you wouldn’t expect this city to be one of the street art capitals of the world. In some streets you’ll find no street-art whatsoever. However, once you’re in the right neighbourhood, you will face almost the opposite. There’s barely a wall left untouched.

London has various districts known for their abundance of street art. This time around we headed for Bricklane. This appeared to be quite a good pick with street art of artists like Roa, Invader and Stinkfish around and many walls full of colorful wall paintings. We even witnessed some live painting on the sunny Saturday afternoon we spent there.

The added benefit of visiting a neighborhood like Bricklane is, that there’s not only street art to admire, there are many cute boutiques, shops and markets around as well.

Streetart London BrickLane Sr X Lydian

Street art by Sr. X in Bricklane, London.


What We Regret To Have Missed This Time Around In London

Two other musems we had on our list of must-see exhibitions in London to visit were the Design Museum (which we both haven’t been before) and the Tate Modern (which we have been before, but wanted to visit for new exhibitions). Unfortunately there was no time left, before we had to run back to the airport. So fingers crossed we will make it there next time we’re in London!


Have you been to any cool exhibition in London recently? Or do you know of any that should be added to this overview of must-see exhibitions in London? Share your experience in the comments or send us an email at wkndr at artweekenders dot com. We love to hear from you!

About The Author: Art Weekenders

Art Weekenders is a blog about art, culture and travel in The Netherlands and Europe by Pal and Lydian, a wanderlust couple with a Swedish/Hungarian/Dutch background living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Our goal with this blog is to inspire people to fill their weekends away with fun and fulfilling cultural activities.