The exhibitions you must see this July

Published 17 June 2022

From a study of the UK's vibrant youth culture to a look at African fashion and the East London grime scene, July welcomes a collection of exciting exhibitions, perfect for a break in the shade.

Goodbye spring – hello summer! The days are longer, the sun’s shining brighter and it’s officially National Ice Cream month. Plus, there’s a whole host of intriguing new exhibitions opening across the UK – get some respite from the heat and step inside the cool walls of your favourite gallery or museum.

Combine a trip to that London summer favourite, the South Bank, with a visit to the Hayward Gallery’s anticipated new exhibition, In the Black Fantastic. Drawing from Afrofuturism, science fiction and myth, this major exhibition unpicks how real and imagined worlds can help us investigate important issues around racism and social injustice.

Plus, at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry, the everyday experiences and vast cultural impact of young people is under the microscope in the exhibition Grown Up in Britain.

And there’s plenty more where they came from – so grab your sunglasses and a National Art Pass and get stuck into a summer of museum visiting.

These are our picks to get you started, but don’t forget, there’s so much more out there to enjoy. Keep an eye on our full exhibition listings to plan your summer adventures and sign up to Art in Your Inbox for updates on what to see.

Theicon signifies when there is a National Art Pass offer

Africa Fashion

50% off exhibitions

From groundbreaking designs to historic garments, this exhibition explores the incredible landscape of African fashion over a 70-year period. Rare designs, fashion photography and varied textiles are all on display, plus there's a spotlight on some of the trailblazing designers contributing to African fashion today.


Jerwood Art Fund Makers Open 2021

Championing innovation and craftsmanship, the Makers Open showcases five early-career artists and makers, spotlighting some of the most exciting work being created by UK-based artists right now. Spanning everything from glassmaking and silversmithing to digital modelling, the work featured highlights the varied landscape of art and making in the UK today.

Scottie Somerville

Grown Up in Britain: 100 Years of Teenage Kicks

Free to all

From first jobs to first loves, rekindle your relationship with your inner child at this exhibition looking at how Britain’s youth contribute to the nation’s culture. Photographs and objects tell the stories of young people around the country, collected as part of the museum’s ongoing project to chronicle 100 years of youth culture.


In the Black Fantastic

50% off exhibitions

How can the realms of science fiction and myth help us to unpick complex sociopolitical issues? This exhibition at the Hayward Gallery dives into these areas to show how artists are amplifying and investigating issues around racism, social injustice and cultural liberation. The show features an extraordinary collection of contemporary artists from the African diaspora, including Chris Ofili, Kara Walker, Hew Locke and Wangechi Mutu.

Cartier-Bresson, 'Pierre Bonnard's Studio', 1944

Absent Artists

50% off exhibitions

What is an artist’s studio when the artist is no longer in it? This exhibition explores what becomes of a creative space when the creator leaves. Including work by the likes of Phyllida Barlow, David Hockney and Annie Leibovitz, paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture and prints are all on display. Plus, there is an intriguing focus on the evolution of Charleston itself, as a private space turned public.


Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life

50% off exhibitions

One for lovers of the macabre, this exhibition explores the very complex history of anatomical study, with a particular focus on the disturbing relationship between medical learning and crime in the early 19th century. Among other intriguing displays, the exhibition features the fascinating Arthur’s seat miniature coffins, discovered buried in Edinburgh in 1836, whose origins remain mysteriously unknown to this day.


Grime Stories: From the corner to the mainstream

Free to all

Grime music has evolved so much in the 20 years since it emerged on the underground East London music scene – this exhibition explores how grime went from record shops, youth clubs and pirate radio stations to the global stage through the community at its heart.


Our Time on Earth

50% off exhibitions

Immerse yourself in radical visions of the future, as the Barbican investigates the climate crisis and different ways we could live. Interactive, immersive and digital installations will transport you into new worlds – explore living underground, in a rewilded city or sitting down to dinner with other species, and consider how you’ll spend your precious time on planet Earth.


When Dreams Confront Reality: The Sherwin Collection

50% off exhibitions
10% off

This stunning collection of work celebrates the best of British surrealism, demonstrating how artists embraced the subconscious mind and the idea of subverting reality to create experimental and political works. The exhibition features a number of surrealist heavyweights, including Leonora Carrington, Eileen Agar and Max Ernst, and dives into the history of this transformative period in British art.

Back to top