London is home to some of the world’s top museums and art galleries. Whether you fancy seeing the famous Egyptian mummies at the British Museum, or an alternative art exhibition in one of the many independent London galleries, this city has it all for you. To help you on your way, here are three art highlights to look forward to in 2016.
New Tate Modern
The international art world is eagerly awaiting June 2016, as this is the when the Tate Modern‘s extension, designed by celebrated architects Herzog & de Meuron, will be unveiled. You’re able to picture it even now. As you walk over the striking Millennium Bridge, you stop to take a few photos, which you upload to social media. You’ve captured a stunning view of the cathedral on one side and a panoramic shot of the Tate Modern sitting boldly on the opposite riverbank. You pass through the jaw-droppingly awesome Turbine Hall into the heart of the building and make your way to the curiously sculpted new building, a spiralling pyramid shaped brick design that has added an immense new gallery space to display works. You hold your breath and go underground to the Tanks, the three gigantic former oil tanks, to visit the new subterranean gallery and performance areas that complement the industrial rawness of the main gallery. From there you take the lift to the new roof terrace on the 10th floor where you enjoy a 360-degree view of London’s arresting skyline. You can now safely put your camera back in your pocket. You combine your visit to the new Tate with a viewing of the first major survey in London of renowned visual artist and former Turner Prize nominee, Mona Hatoum, fresh from a showing at Paris’ Pompidou Centre. Showcasing over one hundred works from her 35-year career, the show offers you an unforgettable, immersive experience of light, sound and sculpture.
Electronic Superhighway (2016-1966)
The biggest of the east London galleries, Whitechapel Gallery, kicks off the new year with an electrifying art exhibition that explores the impact of computers and the internet on artists. You begin in the noughties in the first room as you marvel at social artworks by Amalia Ulman, where she pole-danced and publicly dieted to fame, and stand before Thomas Ruff’s gigantic selfies, starkly raw pictures that look like enlarged passport photos. Travel back in time as you explore the birth of the World Wide Web in 1989, and dare to go back to the darkest digital past with Nam June Paik, the first artist to ever use a video recorder in the 1960s. His banks of TV sets are reminiscent of a retailer’s showroom. And don’t miss the first ever major interactive art installation, Lorna (1979-1982) by Lynn Hershman Leeson, featuring a female character who watches TV all day. Does that sound familiar?
Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers
In the heart of the concrete jungle, you’ll find the Barbican, one of the most exciting London galleries for architecture, design, and new media. From March until June you can see an unforgettable show curated by Britain’s very own Martin Parr, whose motto might well be “open your eyes and think of England.” Presenting a unique view of Britain from the 1930s, you see the country through the lens of Henri Cartier-Bresson and take some time to reflect on the grimy surveillance images of the 2011 London riots. Hans van der Meer’s photos of lower league football in rural locations across the UK will take you back to school sports days, while Sergio Larrain’s images of London in 1958 and 1959 offer a cinematic vision of the ebb and flow of crowds and buses in crisp black and white. Inspired by this show, you take photos of your next Tube journey and your swanky bed at the newly opened W London Hotel in Leicester Square, right in the heart of London, where you take a well-earned rest after a truly arty day.