Top Exhibitions to See: UK

Museums and galleries are starting to reopen across the UK, with safety measures in place. Aesthetica highlights recommended shows to visit – from the new Ai Weiwei commission in London to a celebration of Derek Jarman’s iconic garden in Dungeness.

History of Bombs, Imperial War Museum, London

Ai Weiwei’s new artwork explores international migration as part of the museum’s ongoing Refugees season – foregrounding personal stories of those forced to flee their homes. The installation looks at conflict as a root cause of human flow, bringing the relationship between the individual, society and the state into focus. History of Bombs draws on the artist’s ongoing investigation into politics and power, and spans the entirety of IWM’s atrium space. 1 August – 24 May.

Derek Jarman: My Garden’s Boundaries Are The Horizon, Garden Museum, London

Derek Jarman purchased Prospect Cottage in 1986. Then a fisherman’s shack on the shores at Dungeness, it was to become a sanctuary of art and imagination. Having been diagnosed with HIV the same year, Jarman had resolved “to get as much out of life as possible” and started creating a garden. This exhibition highlights Jarman’s works of art and film alongside personal artefacts. His paintings and sculptures are full of emotion, whilst the garden is singular in its vision: windswept by the sea, resting beside a nuclear power station. Until 20 September.

Bill Brandt / Henry Moore, The Hepworth Wakefield

Photographer Bill Brandt and sculptor Henry Moore first met during WWII, when they both created images of civilians sheltering from the Blitz in the London Underground. This show highlights connections between the two artists – looking at shared interests in the subjects of labour, society, industry, the British landscape and the human body. Brandt’s bold, abstract black and white images come into dialogue with Moore’s iconic sculptural forms and drawings. Until 1 Novemer.

Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition 2020, York Art Gallery

The 2020 Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition includes 18 artists that respond to today’s key issues, unpacking the layers of our digitalised, globalised planet. The featured projects ask poignant questions about what it means to be a human today. How has the selfie altered our sense of personal identity? What value do we place on being individuals? Across painting, photography, sculpture, video and installation, these immersive works are part of a wider line of enquiry into our changing world. 1 August – 22 February.

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers, Design Museum, London

Design Museum’s show tells the story of electronic music through art, design, technology and photography. Large scale images of rave culture by Andreas Gursky meet hypnotic virtual installations from The Chemical Brothers. Kraftwerk celebrates 50 years with a 3D show, whilst viewers are invited to explore the extreme visual world created by Weirdcore for Aphex Twin’s Collapse. The exhibition evokes a club-like experience, showing how dance music rewired the world. Until 14 February.

Games We Play, King’s Cross, London

Julie Cockburn, Luke Stephenson and Weronika Gęsicka are artists deconstructing idealised images of everyday life and leisure time. This collaboration between King’s Cross and The Photographers’ Gallery highlights their works, subverting typical scenes of family outings, holidays, playtime and scenic views. Featured above is work by Cockburn, who transforms vintage photographs through hand stitching. Games We Play is the first show at the new free and permanent outdoor exhibition space. Now open.


Discover more newly-opened shows across the UK here.


  1. Image by Howard Sooley
  2. Courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photography by Gao Yuan.
  3. Image by Howard Sooley
  4. Bill Brandt, Nude, East Sussex Coast. Gelatin silver print, 1960 Bill Brandt Archive, London, © Bill Brandt / Bill Brandt Archive Ltd.
  5. Stephanie Potter Corwin, Murmurations #23: 10,000 selfies (with a pink wall in Los Angeles). Installation view and detail. Light boxes with Duratrans, 192in x 64in. Courtesy of the artist.
  6. Image by Jean-Christian Meyer.
  7. Mountain Lake, 2017 © Julie Cockburn Courtesy of the artist and The Photographers’ Gallery

Posted on 29 July 2020


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