13 Exhibitions Not To Miss In London This November And December 2019

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 23 months ago

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13 Exhibitions Not To Miss In London This November And December 2019

We look ahead to London's art and exhibition openings in November and December 2019 and select the must-see shows to round out the year.

King Tut

The largest collection of King Tutankhamun's treasures ever to travel out of Egypt has come to London. Over 150 original artefacts from the Golden Pharaoh's dazzling tomb including a gilded wooden bed, an ornate gilded shrine, Tutankhamun's lotus-shaped wishing cup and his gold inlaid canopic coffinette. This is one hot ticket and we recommend booking well in advance. Read our full preview for full details.

Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at Saatchi Gallery. 2 November 2019-3 May 2020. Peak time tickets £28.50.

School photos

Copyright Tate.

We all look back on our school photos, slightly embarrassed by what we used to look like. But today's children are the future and will probably be the generation who will solve the climate emergency, colonise Mars and do all the things we only dream about. Turner Prize winning (and Oscar winner) Steve McQueen has invited every Year 3 class in London to be photographed and they will be presented in a massive installation at Tate Britain. Arts organisation Artangel will be doing the same but outdoors across all 33 boroughs — after all this city will eventually belong to these youngsters.  

Steve McQueen: Year 3 at Tate Britain. 12 November 2019-3 May, free.

Prize photography

One of the photos shortlisted for the prize. Copyright Garrod Kirkwood.

Powerful, scared, young, old, everyday people and celebrities. This annual portraiture photography prize has it all, every portrait photo has a story that we're invited to explore. This exhibition always acts as a quick starter guide to the modern state of photography.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at National Portrait Gallery. 7 November-16 February, £6.

Discover Da Vinci

Virgin of the Rocks — tracing of the lines relating to underdrawing for Da Vinci's first composition. © The National Gallery, London

Immerse yourself in the world of Da Vinci, dig beneath the surface and see his original designs for one of his paintings and step inside both a chapel and a recreation of his studio. It's been 500 years since the great Leonardo Da Vinci died and now we get the chance to enter his world via immersive experience — this is from the same team behind the video design of the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece at The National Gallery. 9 November-12 January, £16-20.

Free Gormley

A shot from Gormley's RA show. © the artist. Photo: David Parry

The major Gormley exhibition at The Royal Academy is the hot ticket in town but wouldn't it be great to see some of his works without forking out some cash? Well White Cube has just the ticket, sans the need for a ticket, with a collection of Gormley's latest works. Giant figures made from iron dominate the space in another exhibition dedicated to a man whose statuesque figures can  be spotted all over London.

Antony Gormley: In Formation at White Cube, Mason's Yard. 13 November-18 January, free.

Take your medicine

A 16th century amputation saw. Image courtesy Science Museum.

It's been quite the year for the Science Museum — after opening a gallery dedicated to London's role in Science, there's been a swift follow up thanks to the new medicine galleries. Charting the history and evolution of medicine we get to see a rather grisly bone saw used for amputations to the latest surgical aids that allow robots to carry out complex surgeries. This one's a lifesaver.

Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries at Science Museum. Opens 16 November, free.

London Calling

Paul Simonon's broken Fender Precision bass. The bass was damaged on stage at The Palladium in New York City on 2 September 1979, as Simonon smashed it on the floor. Image courtesy Museum of London.

Paul Simonon's smashed up bass guitar and one of Joe Strummer's lyric notebooks feature in an exhibition that marks 40 years since the The Clash's most lauded album London Calling was released. Museum of London recalls this seminal moment in The Clash's history with a display of personal items, linked with those 'London Calling' days. Read our full preview here.

The Clash: London Calling is at Museum of London. 15 November-19 April, free.

A regal spectacle

Three princesses by Gainsborough. Image: Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

A reckless showman or an intelligent connoisseur? Both could be used to describe George IV who lived extravagantly and had multiple mistresses, though also procured fabulous art masterpieces and is credited for the vision behind Regent's Street and Regent's Park. The Queen's Gallery shows us both sides of this notable monarch.

George IV: Art & Spectacle at The Queens Gallery. 15 November - 3 May, £13.50

What the Dickens?

Charles Dickens wrote a lot about Christmas. But did you know that he also helped birth the festive season as we know it? The beloved British author wrote A Christmas Carol in six short weeks during the run up to Christmas 1843. This exhibition explores the author's impact on the commercialisation of the holiday season — and how an oversaturated market ironically turned him into a bit of a Scrooge. Read our full preview here.

Beautiful Books: Dickens and the Business of Christmas at Charles Dickens Museum. 20 November-19 April, £9.50. (includes admission to the rest of the museum).

Who's going to drive you home?

Copyright General Motors.

The automobile changed the way we live our lives today, and with the switch to running cars on clean fuels accelerating (sorry) it's about to undergo another radical transformation. From the earliest automobiles and the age of petrol and mass production, through to the unrealised dream of a sky filled with flying cars V&A is taking us through 130 years of history and into the future — make sure you grab a front seat.   

Cars: Accelerating The Modern World at V&A. 23 November-19 April, £18.

Trojan horse

A wounded Achilles. Copyright the Trustees of The British Museum.

Unassailable walls that could only be overcome with the sneaky ploy involving a horse and Achilles duking it out with Hector. How much of this is based on truth and how much is just a fictional legend? No bonus points for realising that Brad Pitt and Eric Bana weren't around in that era. The British Museum is taking us back into history to uncover the reality of Troy and whether Helen really was the face that launched a thousand ships.

Troy: myth and reality at The British Museum. 21 November-8 March, £20.

Eco warriors

Meet the last of its kind. © Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.

There's no denying that we're in a climate emergency right now and something needs to be done, but what are artists, designers and architects doing about it? Royal Academy of Arts has brought together 21 creatives who will showcase potential futures including a floating city and the tricky debate about what to do with invasive species benefiting from the warming climate. One highlight is the chance to come face to face with a digital recreation of a species of rhinoceros that became extinct last year.

Eco-Visionaries at Royal Academy of Arts. 23 November-23 February, £12.

Tasty buildings

Photo: Luke Hayes.

Move aside Bake Off because an entire gingerbread city is comingto Somerset House. The Museum of Architecture has challenged architects and designers to build a futuristic city out of architecture. It's for everyone to enjoy so no snapping off towers when nobody is looking, though we're sure it'll inspire visitors to go home and make their own gingerbread creations — now those ones you can eat.

Museum of Architecture's gingerbread city at Somerset House. 7 December - 5 January, £9.

Shorter exhibitions and events

James Mylne's take on Boris. Copyright the artist.

It's not all long running shows as James Mylne has unleashed another set of his hyper-real Biro drawn portraits, including those lampooning politicians such as our current PM Boris and Brazil's Bolsonaro (14-22 December, free). A light hearted touch has been applied at Fiumano Clase where stand up comedians have all contributed artworks to raise money for Mental Health UK (13-20 December, free).

One of the artists at Wimbledon Art Fair who will be creating immersive jungle environments.

October may have been the month for art fairs, but November still has the fantastic Wimbledon Art Fair (14-17 November, free). It's a superbly organised open studios with a chance to see where artists work, talk to them about the process and even buy some works. If you're looking for that last minute arty Christmas present then the Art Car Boot Fair will be having a flash sale where you can snap up a bargain (1 December, £11).

If you're looking to indulge in the Christmas spirit check out our guide to all the fantastic light festivals happening across London.

Last Updated 29 October 2019