Five exhibitions to see this July

A host of excellent exhibitions opens across the UK this month – we’ve picked out five that are as hot as July sunshine.

This month’s must-see exhibitions are a celebration of old and young, from revered masters and major retrospectives to blossoming talent and children’s classics. Also… vampire squid. Browse our full listings for a complete picture, or read on for details of our July five – all free or 50% off with a National Art Pass.


Life in the Dark

Indulge your dark side in this interactive and immersive exhibition that throws a light (so to speak) on creatures that only come out at night, or who make their homes in the depths of the earth and oceans. Habitats are recreated – complete with smells – so you can hang out in a bat cave, catch a bioluminescent display and listen to the sounds of the deep sea. The whole family will be entranced by accounts from scientists who are still discovering previously unknown creatures and new ways to record their lives.

Harrison Pearce, Interview (prototype), 2017

Young Contemporary Talent from The Ingram Collection

Discover some of the most exciting UK artists to emerge in the last few years in this showcase of young talent from the Ingram Collection. Painting, sculpture, film and installation are all on display, with some large-scale pieces taking over the gallery to create an immersive experience. The Ingram Collection, one of the largest publicly accessible collections of Modern British art in the UK, added its Young Contemporary Talent branch to support artists at the beginning of their careers, and this exhibition highlights winners of the Young Contemporary Talent Purchase Prize, which has been open to recent graduates since 2016.

Yves Klein, Blue Venus, 1962

Yves Klein

From patenting his own colour – International Klein Blue – and turning nude models into paint brushes, to founding Nouveau Réalisme and influencing movements in conceptual and performance art, visionary French artist Yves Klein achieved a staggering amount in his 34 years. In the year he would have turned 90, Blenheim Palace presents 50 works in the largest retrospective of his career ever held in the UK. Look out for his Blue Venus, painted entirely in the arresting pigment he believed could open your mind to the infinite.

Quentin Blake, Cover artwork for The BFG, Jonathan Cape, 1982

The BFG in Pictures

Fans of Roald Dahl’s beloved tale The BFG won’t want to miss this touring exhibition of Quentin Blake’s original illustrations. Curated by Blake himself, the show presents 40 hand-picked pieces from his personal archive, including illustrations that were part of the original designs but never made it into the final book. Blake has also written a commentary discussing illustration, his work on The BFG and his 20-year creative partnership with Dahl.

Rembrandt van Rijn, A Man in Armour, 1655

Rembrandt: Britain's Discovery of the Master

Britain’s love affair with Rembrandt has been going strong for nearly 400 years, ever since his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (c1629-31), the first of the Dutch master's works to leave Holland, was presented to Charles I in the 1630s. Collectors and artists alike were captivated by the sharp realism of his portraits and the play of light in his landscapes, and his work had an immediate and lasting impact on British art. This landmark exhibition showcases the masterpieces that continue to enthral us alongside works by artists he influenced, from William Hogarth to Frank Auerbach.

Back to top