25 FEB 2019: With thousands of museums across Britain there is certainly no shortage of cultural options for visitors. Landmark facilities like the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London are must-sees, while niche venues like the Sherlock Holmes Museum and (for Dr. Who fans) The Time Machine Museum of Science Fiction are examples of places that will primarily appeal to those with special interests, or, perhaps, simply just a taste for the unusual.

With a host of British museums and galleries welcoming new exhibitions and extensions in 2019, following is a peak at just some of the latest news. And take note: admission to many museums in the U.K. is free.


•    Tate Britain has announced the largest exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work in the UK for nearly a decade, and the Tate’s first Van Gogh exhibition since 1947 (March 27-Aug. 11). Meanwhile, the biggest exhibition of manga to take place outside of Japan will fill the museum in May, detailing how the visual narrative art form has become a global multimedia phenomenon (May 23 May-Aug. 26). •    The National Portrait Gallery will host the first major exhibition on Tudor and Jacobean portrait miniatures in the UK for over 35 years, Elizabethan Treasures: Miniatures by Hilliard and Oliver (Feb. 21-May 19).

•    Nearly 500 years separate Michelangelo and Bill Viola but the Royal Academy is exploring what influence the great Renaissance Master painter had on the video art innovator in Bill Viola/ Michelangelo through March 31. And Turner Prize winner Antony Gormley is looking to fill the Academy with seawater as part of an exhibition detailing his illustrious career (Sept.21-Dec. 3). The artist, renowned for creating the Angel of the North and for his incredible sculpture work, will present his most significant set of works for more than a decade.

•    The new Medicine galleries at the Science Museum are due for completion in 2019 and will be one of the most significant medicine collections in the world. Bringing together impressive collections from pharmaceutical entrepreneur Henry Wellcome and the Science Museum, the Medicine Galleries are set to fill the entirety of the building’s first floor.

•    The Geffrye has embarked on a major transformative scheme, Unlocking the Geffrye, to open up the museum and improve visitors’ experiences, due for completion later this year.

•    The Cartoon Museum will open in a new location near Oxford Circus this Spring, bringing the “imagination of the world of cartoons into a physical space,” along with its library of 5,000 books and 4,000 comics relating the subject.


•    The Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death with the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing (running through May 2) displaying 12 of his finest works as part of a national celebration. Twelve venues across the country will simultaneously display 144 of Da Vinci’s exquisite drawings, considered to be among the most technically accomplished in the history of art.

•    Also in Bristol, M-Shed hosts Tattoo: British Tattoo Art Revealed (March 16-June 16) – the largest gathering of real objects and original tattoo artwork ever assembled in the UK – and On Set with Aardman: Making Early Man (July 6-Sept. 29), which will feature everything from drawings to the latest VR technology that went into making the animated feature film Early Man.


•    Turner Contemporary in Margate, on the Kent coast, will host the world-famous Turner Prize for visual arts.

•    Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire will launch new exhibitions, events, historic restoration and conservation projects and new tours. Through April, the largest exhibition of JMW Turner’s works ever to visit the country will feature stunning artwork in equally spectacular surroundings. Also new are Twizy Tours – a fun way to explore the Capability Brown landscaped parkland from the comfort of a two-seater, electric vehicle.


•    The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle will host Yorkshire Sculpture International every three years, starting in 2019. The project will be characterised by collaborative artistic programming, talent and audience development, new outdoor commissions and international commissioning partnerships.

•    Liverpool’s Tate Liverpool will host the first major UK exhibition of Keith Haring (June 14-Nov. 10), where more than 70 art works inspired by underground club culture, pop art and graffiti will be displayed. The city will also welcome an exhibition of works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to the Walker Art Gallery (March 15-Aug. 26).

•    The Natural History Museum’s famed Dippy the Diplodocus will continue his tour of Britain by visiting the Great North Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne (May 18-Oct. 6). Having spent more than 100 years in London, the 21.3-metre-long skeleton provides a unique insight into prehistoric times and can enthral both children and adults alike.


•    Good news for royal fans in 2019: The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh hosts A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (June 14-Oct. 6), when the wedding outfits of the royal couple will go on display in a special exhibition.

Meanwhile, here are the top 23 free museums in London according to visitlondon.com:

1. British Museum: Visitors can retrace the history of humankind through the museum’s amazing collection of artefacts from all over the world, including highlights such as the Rosetta Stone and Parthenon sculptures.

2. Natural History Museum: From dinosaur skeletons to a giant blue whale model, fascinating exhibits from the natural world fill the spectacular halls of the museum.

3. National Gallery: More than 2,000 paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century by the likes of such Western European masters of painting as Da Vinci, Botticelli, Caravaggio and Van Gogh are on display.

4. Science Museum: Showcasing interactive exhibits and more than 15,000 objects devoted to the “wonders of science,” the permanent collection includes exhibits such as Amy Johnson's Gipsy Moth plane.

5. Victoria and Albert Museum: The V&A hosts one of the greatest collections of art and design objects in the world (more than 2.3 million items, to be precise). Beautiful galleries retrace the history of creativity through fashion, furniture, sculpture, photography, jewellery and more.

6. Tate Modern: The former power station, now London’s centre for modern and contemporary art, features world-class paintings, photographs and performance art, and offers stunning views of the Thames River from the gallery’s café. Newly opened is the Blavatnik Building.

7. Museum of London: Interactive displays follow the evolution of London from prehistoric times through the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, up to the present day.

8. Imperial War Museum: The troubled history of modern war is explored as interesting displays guide visitors through the stories of modern conflicts, from the First World War to the present day.

9. Horniman Museum and Gardens: This unusual attraction in Forest Hill boasts an eclectic collection of musical instruments, anthropology and natural history, including a gigantic walrus. It’s a true hidden gem.

10. National Maritime Museum: Set in historic Greenwich, the maritime museum showcases Britain’s naval history, from sea battles to exploratory expeditions. There are ancient maps and ship models, and the iconic uniform Nelson wore the day of the Battle of Trafalgar.

11. V&A Museum of Childhood: Visiting the V&A Museum of Childhood is like being a kid again, for one day. On display is a wide collection of childhood objects from the 1600s to the present day: toys, games, dolls and more.

12. Sir John Soane’s Museum: Former home to the architect of the Bank of England, this historic residence contains a wide collection of paintings, architectural drawings and antiquities, plus the original sarcophagus of Seti I.

13. Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman Amphitheatre: Did you know London has a Roman amphitheatre? The ancient relic was found by archaeologists working on the site of the gallery in 1988. Entry to both the GAG and the amphitheatre is free.

14. The Wallace Collection: The superb building, situated just off Oxford Street, is a treasure in itself. Inside is a precious collection of 18th-century French paintings, together with works by Titian, Canaletto and Rembrandt.

15. National Portrait Gallery: Boasting the largest collection of portraits in the world, the museum’s focus is on the relationship between the artist and the subject portrayed in the picture, which gives an original insight into different times in history and society.

16. Tate Britain: Displays some of the best of British art from 1500 to today, including the world’s largest collection of works by JMW Turner, as well as stunning paintings by Gainsborough, Whistler and Bacon.

17. Royal Air Force Museum: Retrace the history of aviation at this fascinating London museum. With a huge amount of aircraft memorabilia under one roof, the RAF museum gives a spectacular account of the inner desire to take flight and the scientific endeavours to make it real.

18. Wellcome Collection: Discover what it means to be human through a jam-packed display of science, medicine and psychology artefacts.

19. British Library: Some of the world’s most important literary treasures can be found at the UK's national library. Highlights include a rare example of Magna Carta, a Leonardo Da Vinci sketchbook and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

20. Whitechapel Gallery: Featuring cutting-edge contemporary art by emerging and renowned artists. In addition to the exciting program of exhibitions, the gallery hosts talks, events and workshops.

21. Museum of London Docklands: Learn all about London’s history as a port through exhibits and interactive displays that recreate life at the height of London’s 19-century naval supremacy.

22. National Army Museum: Dedicated to the history of Britain’s armed forces, from the British Civil Wars to the modern day, through thousands of inspiring objects.

23. Serpentine Galleries: In the middle of Hyde Park, the Serpentine Gallery and Serpentine Sackler Gallery are two exhibition spaces devoted to displaying international contemporary art. Every summer, a new Serpentine Pavilion is set up in the Serpentine Gallery’s garden, showcasing the talent of a specific artist or architect.

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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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