My monthly roundup of ten excellent exhibitions to visit during December 2021 while you’re dodging the TV repeats and 15th serving of turkey.
Stanley Gibbons, Strand
(note, closes on 18th December)
The world’s most expensive stamp – nicknamed “the Mona Lisa of the stamp world” – is on display for a few weeks at the London store of its owner, Stanley Gibbons. Stanley Gibbons has created a series of exhibits around the 1c Magenta and its history, and visitors can learn about the stamp’s owners – from schoolboys to shoe designers, and murderers.
Barbican Arts Centre, City of London
(note, closes on 23rd December)
An installation exploring two important social questions: who are our buildings and shared spaces for and how do they affect us?
The jumping-off point for considering these questions is a previously unseen archive of work by the radical 1980s feminist architecture cooperative Matrix, who addressed the ways in which the design of the built environment excludes particular groups, particularly in relation to gender, race and disability.
National Army Museum, Chelsea
This exhibition follows the lives of soldiers in Germany over the past 75 years. It looks at the changing relationship between Britain and Germany and charts the gradual transition from foe to friend.
Discover everyday tales of beer, bratwurst and family life set against intriguing accounts of espionage and military training on a massive scale.
Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington
Through over 300 objects spanning film, performance, fashion, art, music and photography, the V&A will be the first museum to fully explore the cultural impact of Alice and her ongoing inspiration for leading creatives, from Salvador Dalí and The Beatles to Little Simz and Thom Browne. Highlights include Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten manuscript, illustrations by John Tenniel, Ralph Steadman and Disney, stage costumes, fashion from Iris van Herpen and photography from Tim Walker and Annie Leibovitz.
Royal Accademy of Arts, Piccadilly
Held annually, but this year in the autumn, the Summer Exhibition is a celebration of contemporary art and architecture. Anyone can enter their work – leading artists, household names, new and emerging talent – and it provides a platform for the artistic community to showcase what they’re doing.
Museum of the Home, Shoreditch
The museum’s “Rooms Through Time” are dessed each year to show how people have celebrated Christmas and other Winter events in their home over the past 400 years. This is the first time this has happened in 3-years, as the museum was closed for refurbishment.
Motcomb House, Knightsbridge
The Gingerbread City invites leading architects, engineers, landscape architects and designers to create a futuristic city made entirely of gingerbread. Trading in their concrete, beams and glass for dough, sweets and icing, participants have created a mini-city masterpiece of eco-buildings and green infrastructure, and show how greener cities make them cooler, cleaner and healthier places to be.
British Museum, Bloomsbury
The exhibition features objects from the British Museum’s collection, including ceramics, precious metals, textiles and ritual paraphernalia, as well as extraordinary pieces borrowed from Peru itself. Striking, large-scale photography and videos of iconic sites, including the Nasca geoglyphs and Machu Picchu, will also give visitors a vivid sense of place and an appreciation of the artistic and architectural prowess of ancient Andean cultures.
Sir John Soane Museum, Holborn
Created especially for Sir John Soane’s Museum, a series of large-scale watercolours will take visitors on a tour of hell in a nostalgic and ironic representation of the last two centuries of progress. Imagined as a monumental city, visitors will be guided through concert halls, casinos, botanical gardens, car factories and oil rigs. A new film, featuring a group of diabolical antique dealers performing a masked ballet will also be shown.
Museum of London Docklands, Canary Wharf
This exhibition traces more than 200 years of extraordinary experiences and intense activity on a river that has always been essential to the city’s survival. Peppered with personal stories, incidents, major operations, absorbing characters and pivotal moments, this exhibition brings the modern port and its history to life.