The exhibitions you must see this February

Published 4 February 2020

From dinosaurs to Art Deco, sculpture to ‘lost’ pots, there are plenty of exhibitions to dive into this February. Here are our picks.

Turner Prize-winning contemporary artists feature highly in our selections for February. Grayson Perry revisits his early work, and Steve McQueen presents his first major exhibition in the UK for 20 years.

Elsewhere, you can get up close and prehistoric with Tyrannosaurs in Edinburgh, delve into Bohemian Paris with Toulouse-Lautrec in Bath and discover how Art Deco shaped the seaside during the 1920 and 30s at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich.

The parallel and intersecting careers of sculptor Henry Moore and photographer Bill Brandt are charted in a new exhibition in Wakefield, and perceptions of masculinity are explored through film and photography at the Barbican. Meanwhile, Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media at the Foundling Museum looks at depictions of the pregnancy over a period of 500 years.

All of our must-see exhibitions are free or 50% off with a National Art Pass – and don’t forget there are hundreds more fantastic shows to discover in our full exhibition listings.


Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years

Known for his ceramics, tapestries and television documentaries, this is the first exhibition to survey Grayson Perry’s earliest works made between 1982 and 1994. Many of the 70 items on display have been crowdsourced from across the UK following a hugely successful appeal to the public in 2018, with many of his ‘lost’ pots reunited for the first time.


Steve McQueen

The director of the Academy Award-winning 12 Years a Slave brings a new exhibition to his hometown of London, spanning two decades and featuring 14 major works of film, photography and sculpture – including, for the first time in the UK, End Credits, a film inspired by African-American singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

Tyrannosaurs, © James Horan


Tyrannosaurus rex is the most well-known of the species, but this exhibition looks at the whole tyrannosaur family tree, revealing through recent discoveries how they evolved from carnivores little bigger than people to huge predators. Cutting-edge technology and interactive augmented reality also allow visitors to walk side-by-side with T. rex and other tyrannosaurs as they explore Edinburgh.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Troupe de Melle Eglantine, 1896

Toulouse-Lautrec and the Masters of Monmartre

Showcasing over 80 works including vibrant and iconic colour posters by Toulouse-Lautrec, Alphonse Mucha and Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, this exhibition revisits the ‘street art’ of 1890s Paris. Activities and events will include a dressing-up area so visitors can get a feel of what it was like to be a performer or artist in the Moulin Rouge.

Designs for Midland Hotel, Morecombe, Oliver Hill & John Dean Monroe Harvey Drawing, 1932

Art Deco by the Sea

Exploring the seaside architecture of hotels, piers, apartments and lidos at a time when mass tourism in the UK was growing and Art Deco was the go-to style for coastal resorts, this show comprises some 130 works including paintings, posters, brochures, photographs, furniture, fashion, ceramics and textiles.

Bill Brandt, Henry Moore, 1948, gelatin silver print, Hyman Collection, London

Bill Brandt / Henry Moore

Photographer Bill Brandt and sculptor Henry Moore met in 1942 when Brandt photographed Moore in his studio to accompany a 10-page spread in Lilliput magazine. This exhibition traces their intersecting careers, which hold some parallels, including their shared admiration for rock formations. It also looks at how Moore employed photography to share his sculpture with a wider audience.


Masculinities: Liberation through Photography

Featuring works by Laurie Anderson, Sunil Gupta, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Isaac Julien and Catherine Opie, this exhibition charts representations of masculinities and how they have evolved since the 1960s. Touching on themes including power, patriarchy, queer identity and female perceptions of men, it highlights how photography and film have been pivotal to the way masculinities are imagined and understood in contemporary culture.

Chantal Joffe, Self-Portrait Pregnant II, 2004

Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media

Paintings, prints, photographs, objects and clothing from the 15th century to the present day chronicle how shifting social attitudes have impacted depictions of pregnant women in the visual arts. The exhibition also considers how more recent images, which often reflect increased female agency and empowerment, still remain highly charged.

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