The exhibitions to see in 2022

Published 1 January 2022

From Van Gogh’s self-portraits to Beatrix Potter’s passion for nature, 2022 is bursting with exhibitions of every artistic flavour. Discover new stories, expand your horizons, and plan your fresh year of art.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, 1887, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Part of the exhibition Van Gogh Self Portraits at the Courtauld, London

A new year brings a new calendar of exhibitions.

Museums and galleries have been working hard to bring us inspiring experiences safely – and there are so many fantastic shows to get stuck into.

Van Gogh at the Courtauld gallery, Marina Abramović at Modern Art Oxford and Beatrix Potter at the V&A are just some of the major names to get excited about. Plus, you can lose yourself in science fiction and storytelling with Doctor Who at the World Museum.

Make seeing more art your new year’s resolution and start filling your diary with these unmissable exhibitions.

And of course, don't forget to take your National Art Pass!

What to see in 2022

The new year starts strong as the early months play host to a range of big names at museums across the country.

A major exhibition at the newly transformed Courtauld gallery in London is entirely devoted to Vincent van Gogh’s self-portraits. This groundbreaking show features iconic images from across his career such as Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889).

Beloved author and illustrator Beatrix Potter is celebrated at the V&A in an exhibition focusing on her lifelong love of nature and dedication to conservation. And at the Hayward Gallery, Louise Bourgeois’ clever use of fabrics comes under the microscope in an exhibition of her large-scale sculptures and textiles, The Woven Child.

Picture letter by Beatrix Potter sent to Noel Moore from Heath Park, Birnam, 21 August 1892. Courtesy of Princeton University Library

Other exhibitions explore artistic movements and their influencers. Delicate paintings by Camille Pissarro, brought together at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, demonstrate how the artist had an enormous influence on Impressionism in 19th-century France.

And at Tate Modern it’s Surrealism that takes centre stage, with an exhibition exploring the global reach of this major avant-garde movement.

Leonora Carrington, Self-portrait, c1937-8. Part of the exhibition Surrealism Beyond Borders. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002. © 2021 Estate of Leonora Carrington / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art

It's an apt time to explore our relationship with nature and the environment.

At the National Museum of Scotland you can see Audubon’s Birds of America (1827-38), a landmark book of life-size watercolours of birds; at Tate St Ives, multimedia artist Thảo Nguyên Phan investigates Vietnam’s Mekong River in an exhibition combining folklore and myth with urgent, contemporary issues; and at the British Museum, you can dive into the complex history of Stonehenge.

Detail from a print depicting Carolina Parrots from Birds of America by John James Audubon. Image © National Museums Scotland

And if you’re after something cutting-edge, the annual British Art Show is back, kicking off its tour of the UK at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Discover some of the most exciting emerging artists working across everything from painting and sculpture to sound and performance. (You can also catch the exhibition at Manchester and Plymouth later in the year.)

Spring & Summer

Elsa Soläng, A space for close-looking, 2020. Part of the exhibition Weird Sensation Feels Good. Courtesy of ArkDes

Spring is a feast for the senses. In a world-first at the Design Museum, the exhibition Weird Sensation Feels Good brings the online phenomenon of ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) – the term for a skin-tingling effect you might feel in response to certain sounds or sensations – into the physical space.

Meanwhile at the Hepworth Wakefield, contemporary artist and sculptor Sheila Hicks' unusual fabric creations fill the gallery with vibrant colour in a feast for the eyes and fingertips. And at Tate Britain, Cornelia Parker dominates the halls with her playful and powerful immersive installations. Including film and photography, her work invites you to lose yourself in another world.

Sheila Hicks, Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands, 2016-17, © Sheila Hicks. Courtesy of Alison Jacques Gallery, London. Photo: Michael Brzezinski

Reframed: The Woman in the Window, a fascinating-sounding exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, explores the recurring motif of the ‘woman in the window’, investigating how one theme can be adapted over time in a hundred different ways. And there's a strong focus on the trailblazing women artists who’ve reclaimed the motif as their own.

Two very different fashion exhibitions rock up to the V&A. First, Fashioning Masculinities explores the stylish world of menswear; then, Africa Fashion looks at the varied landscape of African fashion and textiles from the mid-20th century to the present day.

Chris Steele-Perkins, GB. ENGLAND. Bradford. Market Tavern. 1976. Part of the exhibition Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear. © Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos

Two vastly different time periods are a source of inspiration for exhibitions at Henry Moore Studios and Gardens in Hertfordshire and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. At the former, you can explore how the 1960s defined the career of legendary sculptor Henry Moore, in Henry Moore: The Sixties, and at the latter you can dive into the treacherous and bloody years of the Tudor dynasty in The Tudors: Passion, Power and Politics.

Also in Liverpool, a surefire hit will be Doctor Who: Worlds of Wonder at the World Museum, exploring the point where science and science fiction collide through this pop culture phenomenon.

And be sure not to miss a real blockbuster: Renaissance master Raphael at the National Gallery. Despite his tragically short life, the painter, architect, poet and archaeologist had an extraordinary influence on Western culture.


Hannah Starkey, Untitled, August 2013, © Hannah Starkey. Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Autumn is packed with some of the most exciting contemporary artists working today.

Photographer Hannah Starkey brings her vivid images exploring women’s lives to the Hepworth Wakefield; Annie Montgomerie explores mental health and childhood through beautifully constructed fabric animals at Yorkshire Sculpture Park; and Jala Wahid uses mixed-media art to explore Kurdish identity at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

And if you’re hungry for more of today’s artistic talent, at Aberdeen Art Gallery the Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open exhibition showcases new work by five early-career artists.

Last but by no means least, pioneering performance artist Marina Abramović presents a new commission inspired by ritual, magic and spirituality at Modern Art Oxford.

Psy performs Gangnam Style, on TODAY, 2012, New York, USA. Part of the exhibition Hallyu! The Korean Wave. Courtesy of Jason Decrow, Invision, AP, Shutterstock

At the V&A in London you can immerse yourself in the dynamic culture of South Korea as Hallyu! The Korean Wave explores the South Korean cinema, drama, music, fandom, beauty and fashion that’s making waves around the world. In Scotland, V&A Dundee investigate our relationship with plastic – a once cutting-edge new product that now poses a great threat to the planet – in Plastic: Remaking Our World.

Two sensational painters come under the spotlight at Tate Modern and the National Gallery: 19th-century Post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne and 20th-century figurative painter Lucian Freud.

And finally, at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich we're travelling back in time, from the Great Pyramid to Shakespeare's Cleopatra, to explore the enduring appeal of Ancient Egypt in art and design.

How’s that for starters? Remember, you can add exhibitions to your wishlist by clicking the star icon. You can also take our fun Art Profile quiz and recieve top picks and recommendations of venues and exhibitions you'll enjoy.

For even more inspiration, browse our full exhibition listings and sign up to our fortnightly newsletter, Art in Your Inbox, to pack your new year with art.

And don't forget, you can enjoy fantastic benefits at hundreds of museums, galleries and historic houses, plus 50% off major exhibitions, with a National Art Pass.

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