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Art returns to Britain: 2020’s ground-breaking gallery exhibitions

Tuesday 01 September 2020
Exterior shot of the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Britain’s vibrant art galleries are poised for the return of inspirational and ground-breaking exhibitions in what remains of 2020. From world-famous names such as J.M.W. Turner and Andy Warhol to fascinating local artists showing their work across the nations, Britain’s art scene has bags of outstanding shows to catch before the year ends.

London: Turner, Warhol and Emin

Visitors to London can dive back into the art world with a titan of the Romantic movement, J.M.W. Turner. Experience his genre-defining paintings of the new industrial age in Turner’s Modern World at the Tate Britain, on display from 28 October 2020. Autumn at Pimlico’s premier gallery will also see British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibiting 80 of her enigmatic portraits, from 18 November.

Modern art fans can catch the legendary work of Andy Warhol at the Tate Modern until 15 November 2020. A name synonymous with Pop Art, discover how he rocked the art world against a backdrop of 20th century societal change.

Moving across London to the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, the V&A will show Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk until 25 October. A standout autumn line-up also includes Renaissance Watercolours, highlighting the pivotal role that some paintings played in detailing the natural world. Opening in November 2020, exact dates are yet to be confirmed.

For the first time in its 252-year history, the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition has been moved to autumn. The famous celebration of art showcases works by household names and emerging talent and can be viewed from 6 October 2020 to 3 January 2021. Tickets are on public sale from 9 September.

The Royal Academy is also hosting Gauguin and the Impressionists: Masterpieces from the Ordrupgaard Collection until 18 October 2020. Exhibiting 60 impressionist masterpieces from artists such as Monet, Renoir and Gauguin, it is a chance to see many iconic works on display in Britain for the first time.

Another unmissable Royal Academy show for autumn will be Tracey Emin/Edvard Munch: The Loneliness of the Soul. Opening on 15 November 2020, it will take art fans through a journey of Emin’s work and reveal its connection to her life-long passion for the works of Edvard Munch.

Another hotspot of culture in London is the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Centre, which is ready to welcome guests to marvel at its latest exhibition, Among the Trees. Showing until 31 October 2020, it encourages visitors to enter a ‘forest of art’, formed by a multimedia selection of pieces which explores humankind’s relationship with forests and trees.  


The rest of Britain: Moore, Surrealism and seaside Art Deco


Plymouth’s exciting new multi-disciplinary arts and heritage centre, The Box, is set to open to the public for the first time on 29 September 2020. A free gallery that will be the largest of its kind in Britain, don’t miss its pioneering Mayflower 400: Legend & Legacy exhibition. Created in partnership with the Wampanoag Advisory Committee, it will commemorate 400 years since the first voyage of the Mayflower from Plymouth to America.

From a gallery on England’s south coast to its vibrant northern hubs, visitors to the northeast can book a visit to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle. Here, they'll have the chance to see the first solo exhibition of Abel Rodriguez, a Nonuya elder who has his roots in the Cahuinarí river region of the Colombian Amazon. Free tickets can be booked until the display closes on 8 November 2020.

Newcastle’s Laing Art Gallery will feature another exhibition that explores the close ties between art and culture, when Art Deco by the Sea opens on 17 October 2020.  One for the art-loving anglophile, it will delve into the relationship between the art deco movement and British seaside culture during the 1920s and 1930s.

Moving across the art map of Britain to the west, Liverpool’s Walker Art Gallery has extended its retrospective of Linda McCartney’s photography until 1 November 2020. Featuring a striking collection of more than 200 images, the exhibition reveals iconic moments in music from the 1960s and the height of Beatlemania onwards, many of which have never been on show to the public before.

Yorkshire’s art scene is also bursting back to life with exhibitions including Bill Brandt/Henry Moore. Showing the crossing paths of these titans of modern sculpture and photography, it is on display at the Hepworth Wakefield until 1 November.

Scotland and Wales

Dreaming of a cultural trip to Edinburgh? Catch Beyond Realism for a taste of perception-altering Surrealism and Dada at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, on show until 25 October 2020 (some dates currently unavailable). Alternatively, see Glaswegian artist Katie Paterson’s first major exhibition in Scotland, which is lighting up the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art until January 2021.

Wales is also gearing up for an artistic revival as the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown is displaying Melvyn Evans: Imprinting the Landscape, a collection from one of Britain’s finest printmakers, until the end of November. Those looking for a taste of modern art in Wales can plan a visit to Mostyn in Llandudno, where exhibitions of Kiki Kogelnik’s Riot of Objects and Athena Papadopoulos’s Cain and Abel Can’t and Able have been extended until 1 November 2020.


Different attractions will have varied measures in place, which may include one-way systems and strict pre-booked time slots. Visitors are encouraged to check all location, attraction and event websites before travelling, so they can explore Britain with confidence. 

For more information contact:

Visit Britain Media Team

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