2019 is zipping along at quite a speed, and London's already witnessed some great exhibitions. But big treats — including Kubrick, Tutankhamun and William Blake — are still to come. Culture diaries out to pencil this lot in:
Shell shocked at Tate Britain
Photographer Don McCullin's work captures the horror and chaos of conflict, from Vietnam to Lebanon. He's best known for his image of the shell shocked marine but we've seen many of his photos and can attest that his portfolio is filled with powerful photographs. We're looking forward to this deserved retrospective, we'll just need to brace ourselves before entering.
Don McCullin at Tate Britain. until 6 May, £16.
Remembering Madiba at Leake Street
Five years since the great Nelson Mandela died, this exhibition charts the legacy, history and achievements of a world changing statesman through film, artefacts and the man's personal belongings. If, like us, your childhood memories include news coverage of his release and later election, this exhibition will bring those memories flooding.
Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition at 26 Leake Street. Until 3 June, £12-£27.
More of Moore at The Wallace Collection
Henry Moore is best-known for his abstract figure sculptures, with a fantastic collection at Tate Britain. What many won't know about is his obsession with armour, and the sculptures he created inspired by Renaissance armour. Aptly, they're going on display at The Wallace Collection, next to the armour that inspired them.
Henry Moore: The Helmet Heads at The Wallace Collection. Until 23 June, £11 (£12.50 with donation)
Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Starry Night Over the Rhone
A major exhibition at Tate Britain, which examines how Van Gogh was inspired by British art, and how he in turn inspired British artists. His famous Sunflowers fill the gallery with joy, while a work of a red-haired man with piercing blue eyes stares out intensely at visitors.
The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain is at Tate Britain. Until 11 August 2019, £22
Kapoor at Pitzhanger Gallery, Ealing
Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery is a fantastic building — the gallery has hosted some spectacular contemporary art exhibitions, and we visited regularly until it closed for a lengthy refurbishment. It'll open again in 2019 after restoration work to the John Soane-designed building — the first exhibition is an Anish Kapoor one, containing his usual blend of mind -bending mirrored works.
Anish Kapoor at Pitzhanger Gallery. Until 18 August, £7 (£7.70 with donation).
Glass Master at Kew Gardens
Dale Chihuly creates sculptures out of glass that we would normally think impossible. His bright colourful forms writhe and expand as if they are living creatures — you may have seen one of them hanging in the main entrance hall of V&A. Given the organic nature of his work, placing 32 of these sculptures around Kew Gardens feels like a natural fit and we're looking forward to Kew becoming even more beautiful than it already is.
Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on Nature at Kew Gardens. 13 April-27 October, £13.75 (includes general admission to the gardens).
A film odyssey
Whether it be a spaceship gliding through space to blood flowing out of a life, Stanley Kubrick has created many iconic cinematic moments. Design Museum is bringing together props, costumes, set models and photographs to take us behind the scenes of the master movie maker's creations.
Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition at Design Museum. 26 April-17 September, £16.
AI at Barbican
Machines are getting smarter — in our phones, in our homes and soon they'll be driving us around. 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 will take on these massive questions in an exhibition us technophiles are seriously looking forward to... or did Google tell us that we'd like it?
AI: More than human at Barbican. 16 May-26 August, £15.
Manga at The British Museum
Manga has grown far beyond its Japanese roots to become a global phenomenon. The British Museum charts the history of this illustration style, right through to modern day incarnations within anime and gaming. Expect interactive elements too, including the ability to have your portrait 'Manga-fied' and a chance to indulge in some cosplay by donning costumes.
Manga at The British Museum, 23 May-26 August, £19.50.
London's waterways don't look like what they used to. Some rivers that used to exist are now underground, while others have radically changed course. How has the growth of our city impacted our rivers? That's what Museum of London Docklands is going to show us through paintings and excavated items. Best be Fleet of foot and Wandle over to see this one.
Secret Rivers at Museum of London, Docklands. 24 May-27 October, free.
Culture, conflict and cuisine at Whitechapel Gallery
We're massive fans of the current Fourth Plinth sculpture of an Assyrian winged guardian. It's a creation of the artist Michael Rakowitz who has a major show at Whitechapel Gallery, using cuisine and cultural artefacts to tell the stories of countries including Afghanistan and post-Soviet Hungary. If the work is as good as his Fourth Plinth commission, we're in for something special.
Michael Rakowitz at Whitechapel Gallery. 3 June-25 August, £tbc
Darkness descends at Science Gallery
Even though it's still hypothetical, dark matter is thought to be responsible for 85% of the mass of the universe. That's a lot of matter and it's the theory that will form the gravitational centre of an exhibition bringing art and science together in search of the elusive. We were impressed by the inaugural Science Gallery exhibition, so we're expecting big things from this new venue in 2019.
Dark Matter at Science Gallery. 6 June-26 August, free.
Da Vinci Code at The British Library
Art, technology, anatomy; the genius of Leonardo da Vinci is still impressive, 500 years after his death. His notebooks will offer a glimpse into his beautiful mind and there will be plenty of the ideas he committed to paper. The British Library excels in intriguing and thoroughly researched exhibitions and we're sure Leonardo da Vinci will get the same treatment.
Leonardo da Vinci: A mind in motion at The British Library. 7 June-8 September, £7.
Packed with beautiful dresses, fabulous exhibition design and sheer class, this V&A blockbuster is a fashionista's dream exhibition — but will appeal to anyone who appreciates genius. It charts the evolution of the Dior brand from the simple elegance of Christian Dior's own designs to the extravagance of the John Galliano era.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is on at V&A. Until 1 September 2019. From £20-£24. Booking ahead is highly recommended (and a necessity on busier days such as weekends).
What to do with half a million Lego bricks? We know — build wonders from around world including the Pyramids, the original London Bridge and the International Space Station. The Horniman Museum is going to have a Lego fiesta including a Lego replica of its most famous resident, the Horniman Walrus. It sounds like we'll be paying a visit and singing everything is awesome.
Brick Wonders at Horniman Museum. Until 27 October, tickets £9 for adult / £5 for children.
William Blake at Tate Britain
The largest William Blake exhibition in 20 years comes to Tate Britain this autumn, celebrating the work of a singular artistic talent. Unfortunately, his ill-fated exhibition of 1809 held above his family's hosiery shop in Soho, meant he was never lauded by the public in his time.
Tate Britain hopes to rectify this, by exhibiting over 300 original watercolours, paintings and prints — as well as recreating the cramped domestic room in which Blake put his reputation on the line.
William Blake: The Artist at Tate Britain. 11 September-2 February 2020, £18
Figures abound at Royal Academy of Arts
Antony Gormley has made a name for himself by placing different versions of himself all over the country (and the world). His figures are everywhere and instantly recognisable, from the Angel of the North to the many scattered around London. A major exhibition of his work will appear in the Royal Academy of Arts towards the end of the year — it may be almost a year away, but we're already stoked.
Antony Gormley at Royal Academy of Arts. 21 September-3 December, £tbc
Shining a light on Rembrandt at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dulwich Picture Gallery commemorates 350 years since the death of Rembrandt with an exhibition on the man who mastered the use of light and dark in his paintings. The last Rembrandt exhibition in London was superb — more of the same, please.
Rembrandt's Light at Dulwich Picture Gallery. 2 October 2019-2 February 2020, £tbc.
Why have people tell you the history of London if you can get animals to do it? An immersive exhibition will tell us how lions, elephants and the humble pigeon has shaped our capital. Museum of London have teamed up with Guildhall School of Music and Drama so we're in for an entertaining show.
Beasts of London at Museum of London. Until 7 January 2020, £11 for adults, £6 for children.
Mary Quant at V&A and Fashion & Textile Museum
The mini skirt is the item of clothing that most people associate with sixties icon Mary Quant. But she was a versatile fashion designer, and V&A pays tribute to how she revolutionised women's fashion on the high street. In an unrelated exhibition the Fashion & Textile Museum explores a similar era from a broader angle, with a show looking at the fashion, homeware, textiles and furniture of this transformative time.
Mary Quant at V&A. Until February 2020, £12.
Swinging London: A lifestyle revolution at Fashion & Textile Museum. Until 2 June 2019, £9.90.
A last chance to see King Tut's treasures
Over 150 original artefacts from the Golden Pharaoh's dazzling tomb go on display at Chelsea's Saatchi Gallery in November. These include a gilded wooden bed, an ornate gilded shrine, Tutankhamun's lotus-shaped wishing cup, and his gold inlaid canopic coffinette.
60 of the pieces have never left Egypt before, although King Tut's iconic death mask has previously been deemed too fragile to travel, and won't feature.
London is the third stop on a 10-country tour for this exhibition. When it ends, the artefacts will go on permanent display at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh at Saatchi Gallery. 2 November 2019-3 May 2020, £tbc.
So those are our best picks for 2019 and most are available to book already. Not all museums have announced their 2019 line up yet, so we'll keep updating the list as more come in. The Brick Wonders, Beasts of London, Stanley Kubrick and Secret Rivers exhibitions were added post-publication.