As we crawl out of the lockdown, the museum and galleries are opening up and putting on their big summer exhibitions at last. Here’s a selection of what’s open in June to waken up the slumbering cultural brain.


Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery

Museum of London Docklands, Canary Wharf

Free

The first opportunity for the public to see the largest ever Bronze Age hoard discovered in London.

Weapons including axe heads, spearheads, fragments of swords, daggers and knives, alongside some other unusual objects rarely found in the UK, make up a total of 453 bronze objects dating between c.900 and c.800 BC are on display as part of the exhibition.


The Silk Road: A Living History

Granary Square, King’s Cross

Free

An open-air photography exhibition that shows the people, places and cultures encountered across 17 countries between the UK and China along the ancient Silk Road.

It celebrates the diversity of cultural expressions found along the route, highlight examples of how historical practices, rituals and customs live on today, and also reveal some of the connections between what appear at first glance to be very different cultures.


Gaia Returns to the Painted Hall

Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Adult: £12.50 | Children Free | Student £7.50 | Concessions £7.50 | National Art Pass £6.75

See a huge floating replica of the Earth glowing inside the baroque Painted Hall.

The internally-lit Gaia is 1.8 million times smaller than Earth, with each centimetre of the sculpture representing 18km of the Earth’s surface. By standing 211 metres away from the slowly rotating artwork, viewers can see the Earth as it appears from the moon while enjoying a specially made surround-sound composition by composer Dan Jones.


Noël Coward: Art & Style

Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

Free

See the dazzling visual side of Coward’s life and work by taking a fresh and vibrant look at the glittering world that Coward created. Bringing together never-before-seen materials from the Coward Archive, the exhibition demonstrates the impact that he and his creative circle had on the fashion and culture of his time, and how his legacy and influence still resonate today.


Making Nuno: Japanese Textile Innovation from Sudō Reiko

Japan House, Kensington

Free

This exhibition showcases the innovative work of Japanese textile designer Sudō Reiko, who is renowned for pushing the boundaries of textile production and championing new methods of sustainable manufacturing.


Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Natural History Museum, South Kensington

Adult £14.95 | Children £8.95 | Concessions £11.95 | Family £26.25-£45.45

Explore some of the world’s richest habitats, see fascinating animal behaviour and get to know some extraordinary species. The fifty-sixth Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and the winning images on display were selected for their creativity, originality, and technical excellence by an international panel of industry experts.


Hackney in the 1980s

Hackney Museum

Free

This exhibition brings 1980s Hackney to life through photographs found in the basement of the Rio Cinema, Dalston.

This unique collection explores the highs and lows of everyday life in the borough, alongside some of the key social and political events of the decade. They also capture the resilience and solidarity of Hackney’s communities in the 1980s in the face of poverty, racism, housing shortages and government cuts.


Astronomy Photographer of the Year

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Adults £10 | Children £5 | Concessions £6.50

Over 100 images from the world’s space photography competition and see each twinkling star in pin-point detail on the stunning back-lit light displays. From the dancing aurora to distant galaxies, these images capture the wonders of our Universe.


Margaret Calvert: Woman at Work

Design Museum, Kensington

Free

A chance to not only see the exceptional work of the woman behind some of the most widely used designs in transport signage, and the iconic designs of motorway and airport wayfinding.

But also to see the new Rail Alphabet 2, which is to be rolled out across the UK’s railway stations over the coming years.


Thomas Becket – Murder and the making of a saint

British Museum, Bloomsbury

Adult £17 | Children Free | Concession & students £15 | National Art Pass £8.50

Probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a lot of Becket memorabilia in one place as the exhibition marks the 850th anniversary of his death.

Along with a lot of relics and books on display is a huge stained glass window from Canterbury Cathedral displayed at eye level for the first time.


In Air and Fire: War Artists, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz

RAF Museum, Colindale

Free

Over sixty works of art, several of which will be on display for the first time as part of this exhibition, all exploring artists’ responses to the Battle of Britain and the Blitz as they represented evolving machinery, communications, and urban landscapes, shaped by what was an unprecedented ‘war in the air’.


The Art of Banksy

Covent Garden

Mon-Fri: Adult £27.50 | Child £19.50 | Concession & students £19.25

Sat-Sun: Adult £34.65 | Child £21.45 | Concession & students £21.45

An unofficial exhibition of Banksy street art based on private collections and from an art dealer. A chance to see a wide range of Banksy art in one place.

It’s hosted in a warehouse space in the heart of Covent Garden, formerly the Belgian eatery Belgo.


Laughing Matters: The State of a Nation

Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington

Free

Through over 30 objects, ranging from costumes to scripts, from puppets to music, this display unpicks the punchlines to discover what humour since the Victorian era – whether subversive, surreal, mocking or celebratory – can tell us about what it means to be British today.


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