Exhibitions to see in 2019
From Leonardo da Vinci to Jeff Koons, Mary Quant to Stanley Kubrick, the year is chock-a-block with exhibitions to amaze, intrigue and move you. Here are our recommended exhibitions for 2019.
Remember, new shows are being announced all the time, so check our full listings for more of 2019's best exhibitions.
Don't forget to add exhibitions you want to see to your wishlist – and of course, enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums and galleries across the UK, as well as 50% off major exhibitions, with a National Art Pass.
What to see in 2019: Contemporary art
This year offers a wealth of contemporary art in a huge variety of media, from artists all over the world.
From February, American artist Jeff Koons co-curates his own career-spanning show at the Ashmolean Museum and brings many of his subversive and playful sculptures and paintings to Britain for the first time.
Artist and activist Keith Haring's graffiti- and pop art-inspired work (pictured above), which was a major part of the New York art scene in the 1980s and helped to define an era, is celebrated at Tate Liverpool from June.
And in October, Otobong Nkanga will finish her 2019 residency at Tate St Ives with an exhibition of drawings, installations, photographs and sculpture exploring our relationship with the land and natural resources.
Sculpture: Barlow, Moore and more
Phyllida Barlow takes over the new gallery space at the Royal Academy with her challenging and vibrant large-scale structures from February. The exhibition is supported by Art Fund and visitors with a National Art Pass can enjoy a special 50% off entry.
Then, for a riot of internationally renowned sculpture over the summer, head to Leeds and Wakefield. The first ever Yorkshire Sculpture International festival takes place across the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and features major new commissions in city centre locations.
The festival celebrates the area’s history as the birthplace of pioneering sculptors such as Barbara Hepworth and presents work by many leading international artists including Tau Lewis, David Smith and Nobuko Tsuchiya.
Da Vinci and the Old Masters
Wherever you are in February, you won’t be many miles from the work of one of the greatest minds in history. To mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci (above), 12 exhibitions are taking place simultaneously across the UK.
In total, 144 drawings will be on display, illuminating the full breadth of Da Vinci's talents, including his ideas for painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.
Keeping with the Renaissance, in March the Royal Academy presents The Renaissance Nude (offering another special 50% off entry for visitors with a National Art Pass). The exhibition examines the genre at a pivotal moment in its history through the work of Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael and many more.
Film and technology
Meet your robotic siblings in an interactive exhibition tracing our 500-year obsession with making machines human. Originally created by the Science Museum, Robots reboots at the National Museum of Scotland in February.
Exciting news for Stanley Kubrick fans – from April, the Design Museum presents a major exhibition about the iconic filmmaker (A Clockwork Orange pictured above), looking in particular at his unique relationship with Britain.
Gamers will want to head to V&A Dundee for an exhibition about the design and social power of video games since the mid-2000s – with plenty of opportunities to get interactive with the exhibits.
And for an artistic take on the impact of technology on our lives and culture, visit Tate Modern in the autumn for a retrospective of the video pioneer Nam June Paik, whose experimental and playful work proved to be visionary.
Van Gogh and the modern masters
Don’t miss the opportunity to see many of Vincent van Gogh's most famous paintings at Tate Britain from late March, and discover how the master both inspired and was inspired by British artists.
Also in the first quarter of the year, Tate Modern presents a retrospective of the boundary-pushing Surrealist work of Dorothea Tanning (above) – and an exhibition of Alfred Munnings' career-launching paintings as a war artist moves from the National Army Museum to the artist’s former home in Essex.
In May, the Barbican shines a light on a pioneer of abstract impressionism, Lee Krasner, in an exhibition supported by Art Fund, while at the Holburne Museum, many rarely seen works by French artist Edouard Vuillard are drawn together from private collections, exploring his emotionally charged and intimate interior scenes.
Vuillard and his circle were heavily influenced by Paul Gauguin, and in the autumn the National Gallery presents a unique exhibition of the French post-Impressionist’s portraits, tracing his development from Impressionism to Symbolism.
Fashion and design
The V&A in London offers blockbuster shows of two pioneers of fashion. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, from February, looks at the legacy of one of the 20th century's most influential couturiers, while in April an exhibition of Mary Quant (above) explores how the designer made fashion fun for the Mod generation.
Mods themselves take centre stage at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, in an exhibition which reveals how the scene developed in the East Midlands, while the Fashion and Textile Museum explores the whole heady time from 1952-77 in Swinging London, examining everything from furniture to the era’s socio-economic importance.
The gorgeous Art Nouveau designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School are celebrated at the Walker Art Gallery from March with a full spectrum of objects on display, including stained glass, mosaic and metalwork.
Iconic photographers are very much in the picture this year. Tate Britain presents a major retrospective of British photographer Don McCullin in February, including his often harrowing pictures of conflict and scenes from British life, from urban poverty to rural beauty.
Also in February, the early career of Diane Arbus is explored at the Hayward Gallery, featuring many of her intimate portraits of 20th-century New York that have never been displayed in Europe before.
Bringing us right up to date at the National Portrait Gallery in March is an exhibition of Martin Parr's photographs of people from all over the world, including a special look at British identity in the wake of the EU referendum. (Above: Sikh wedding at City Hall, Cardiff, Wales, 2008 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery.)
And at Modern Art Oxford, for a slightly different take on the medium, Akram Zaatari: The Script presents the Lebanese artist's exploration of people's attitude to filming and photographing themselves.
Looking for inspiration? From top fives to insiders' guides, discover more to see and do with a National Art Pass.