The Best Exhibitions Opening In London In May 2019

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 38 months ago

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The Best Exhibitions Opening In London In May 2019

We look ahead to London art and exhibitions, museum and gallery openings for May 2019 and select the must-see culture.

The shiniest supper

Copyright Sara Shakeel.

Most of us are familiar with Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting The Last Supper. Now artist Sara Shakeel is using it as inspiration to create a blinging banqueting scene so we'll be able to walk into a dining experience, including a Sunday roast, covered with crystals in Greenwich Peninsula. Prepare to be dazzled.

Sara Shakeel: The Great Supper at Now Gallery. 15 May-23 June, free.

Body image

Well, that doesn't look creepy at all. Image courtesy Kate Cooper.

Computer generated figures change form and get sick in surreal films by artist Kate Cooper, housed in the smaller project space of Hayward Gallery. The exhibition examines the obsession with looking perfect as we become more concerned with how others see us, and how fragile our bodies are.

Kate Cooper at HENI Project Space, Hayward Gallery. 15 May-23 June, free

Skynet or saviour?

Image courtesy of Universal Everything

Machines are getting smarter — in our phones, in our homes and in our cars. What does this mean for us? Are our lives about to get a lot easier or are we giving up too much control? What will a human being look like in the future? Leading researchers and artist commissions have taken on these massive questions in an exhibition for technophiles.

AI: More than Human at Barbican. 16 May-26 August, £15.

Super moon

Museum of the Moon at a previous venue. Image by Fay Grant

Stare up at a giant model of our moon, or do yoga underneath it at Natural History Museum. A 20 foot wide model of the moon is suspended in the museum, based on high resolution NASA imagery, just in time to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. Read our full preview here.

Museum of the Moon: An artwork by Luke Jerram at Natural History Museum. 17 May-8 September, free.

Food, glorious food

© Honey & bunny (Sonja Stummerer & Martin Hablesreiter) / Daisuke Akita

We all need food to survive, but increasingly we're thinking about how it gets to our plates. Sustainability and plant based diets are hot sociopolitical topics, and the V&A takes us on the full journey from how food is farmed and transported to the sheer enjoyment of eating a delicious meal. What does the future of food production look like? And what are the social benefits to eating together? Head to V&A for the answers.

Food: Bigger than the Plate at V&A. 18 May-20 October, £17.

Manga at the museum

© Satoru Noda / SHUEISHA

Don cosplay costumes, flick through a library of Manga comics and learn about the origins of the genre that translates as 'pictures run riot'. The British Museum becomes a colour explosion for us to immerse ourselves in this fantastic Japanese art form.

Citi exhibition: Manga at The British Museum. 23 May-26 August, £19.50.

Da Vinci drawings

Royal Collection Trust/(c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019

The Royal Collection holds one of the most impressive collections of drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci, the polymath who drew detailed anatomical sketches, beautiful portraits and fantastic inventions. This year marks 500 years since Da Vinci's death so his artworks serve as a timely reminder of what a talented genius he was.

Leonardo Da Vinci: A Life In Drawing at Queen's Gallery. 24 May-13 October, £13.50

Fabulous Fulham

The Fulham Palace courtyard

A major restoration has taken place at Fulham Palace and it's now fully open to the public again. A restored Tudor courtyard, rooms that haven't been open to the public before and a much larger museum are all available to view. Learn about the history of the building itself, then step outside and enjoy the beautifully landscaped gardens.

Fulham Palace and Gardens. Open from 25 May, free.

Rivers run through it

Jacob's Island, a slum that was cleared away in the 19th century. Painting James Lawson Stewart. Copyright Museum of London.

What's better than learning about London's rivers? Learning about London's secret rivers, that's what. Everybody loves a good London secret and this free exhibition covers the history of the rivers we've lost over time, and the ones that are now lurking unseen beneath our feet.

Secret Rivers at Museum of London Docklands. 24 May-27 October, free.

Track tied

London has the world's oldest railway network, and that means a lot of overlapping tracks which cause issues when it comes to managing congestion. The solution is to 'untangle' these tracks but it's no small undertaking. Head to London Transport Museum to find out how the Thameslink service has evolved over the last 150 years, and how the tracks outside London Bridge were untangled as part of the recent work.

Untangling the tracks at London Transport Museum. Opens 24 May, £16.50 (general admission to the museum)

London's changing

Illuminated River will feature in the exhibition. © Illuminated River, Leo Villareal Studio, 2018

London is full of history but it's always changing too. Guildhall Art Gallery looks back over the centuries to chart this evolution, including the artworks that our fair city's skyline has inspired.

Architecture of London at Guildhall Art Gallery. 31 May - 1 December, £10.

Art fairs and festivals

It's not all major exhibitions, there are plenty of short run festivals and art fairs too.

The wild meets the urban in Nick Brandt's photography at Photo London. Copyright the artist, courtesy Atlas Gallery.

The big art fair of the month is Photo London at Somerset House (16-19 May, £27) where over 100 galleries showcase the vert best of international photography. However, if drawing is more your thing, head to the inaugural Draw Art Fair London at Saatchi Gallery (17-19 May, £20).

St. Petersburg of the future. Copyright Sergei Tchoban.

The Affordable Art Fair is back at Hampstead Heath (8-12 May, £8-20) where visitors can snap up a bargain. If art fairs feel a bit too busy then head down to Dulwich Festival and Open House (11-12 May, most events free) where artists open their homes to allow the public to view their work in a relaxing setting or Wimbledon Art Fair (9-12 May, free) and talk to and buy from artist in their own studios where the magic happens.

Mark Pearson is part of Dulwich Open House.

Block Universe (18 May-2 June) is all about performance art and offers the chance to encounter cutting edge shows in fantastic settings including Imperial War Museum and Barbican

Sophie Jung will feature Block Universe. Copyright Julian Salinas.

London Craft Week (8-12 May) is a collection of workshops, talks and displays all about how things are made. Whether it be art, design, furniture or jewellery that you love this festival gives an inside look at the creative process. Over at Royal Academy of Arts there's a series of talks in the Festival of Ideas (2-6 May) where big hitters like artist Grayson Perry and presenter Michael Palin lead the charge.

Historic paint and lacquer expert Pedro da Costa Felgueiras will be in conversation at Christian Louboutin as part of the Mount Street Curates activity in Mayfair.

Last Updated 03 May 2019