The exhibitions you must see this June

Published 20 May 2019

Summer's looking bright, with a tribute to the British seaside and the vivid colours of Bridget Riley and Lee Krasner among the hottest exhibitions to see this June.

Our must-sees this month include an exhibition of photography capturing the faded glamour of the British seaside at Turner Contemporary, an exploration of the Japanese art form of manga at the British Museum, and a fresh look at Queen Victoria at Kensington Palace to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth.

Most of our must-sees are free or 50% off entry with a National Art Pass – and don't forget to check out our full exhibition listings for more sizzling ideas.

Noda Satoru, Golden Kamuy, 2014 onwards


Manga fans are in for a treat this summer. Whether you’re into graphic novels, gaming, cosplay – or simply drawn to the distinctive artwork – this exhibition at the British Museum is the largest of its kind outside of Japan. As well as exploring the history of the global phenomenon, starting with comic and dramatic designs from the 18th century, the show allows visitors to ‘manga-fy’ themselves in a special photo booth, explore a recreation of the oldest surviving manga bookshop in Tokyo, and sample the immersive world of comic conventions such as Comiket and World Cosplay.

Bridget Riley, Ra, 1981

Bridget Riley

You'll be as dazzled by the breadth and range of Bridget Riley's 70-year career as much as by her optical illusions in this comprehensive exhibition – the first ever in Scotland. As a major practitioner of ‘Op art’, Riley questions the fundamental nature of perception – how we see. Highlights include her iconic black-and-white abstract paintings from the 1960s, explorations into colour and wall paintings. There are also studies revealing her working methods and a selection of recent works.

Keith Haring, Ignorance = Fear, 1989

Keith Haring

Barking dogs, crawling babies and flying saucers are some of the iconic motifs of Keith Haring – a defining figure in New York’s 1980s counter-culture. This is the first major UK exhibition of the American artist who collaborated with Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood and Madonna, among many others. Alive with the energy of the era and deeply engaged with key issues of the day, from AIDS to nuclear disarmament, Haring's work ranges from large-scale paintings and immersive installations to murals and chalk drawings on the New York subway.

Lee Krasner, Palingenesis, 1971

Lee Krasner: Living Colour

A pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, in her work Lee Krasner explored and reflected the energy of New York after the Second World War. This is the first retrospective of her work in Europe for over five decades and a great opportunity to discover an artist whose importance was often eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock. The show spans her 50-year career and includes early self-portraits, charcoal life drawings, collage, large-scale abstract paintings and her famous Little Image paintings. The exhibition is supported by Art Fund and the Barbican is offering visitors with a National Art Pass a special 50% off entry.

Paula Rego, The Maids, 1987

Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance

This retrospective of the work of Paula Rego, one of Europe’s most influential contemporary figurative artists, spans her entire career and features over 80 paintings, drawings and prints. Confronting urgent issues such as conflict and oppression, her work often features characters taken from literature, myths, current events, religious subjects and her own life. Highlights include her response to the Portuguese government’s decision not to legalise abortion (Abortion Series, 1998-99), Painting Him Out (2011), War (2003) and paintings made in the 1960s during the regime of the dictator Salazar, which have never been exhibited in the UK before.

Down to the Beach. Photographer: Raymond C Lawson, 1959

Seaside: Photographed

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside – and what better time of year to celebrate our special relationship with the shoreline (whatever the weather)? This exhibition of photographs from the 1850s to the present day covers the highs and lows of British holiday resorts, intimate family scenes, festivals and raucous days out. Capturing personal and social histories of life by the sea, the show features images by unknown photographers as well as world-renowned practitioners such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Susan Hiller, Martin Parr and Ingrid Pollard.

Pair of shoes by Gundry and Son's 1840s, worn by Queen Victoria

Victoria: Woman and Crown

Think of Queen Victoria and you’re unlikely to picture a young woman in fancy silver shoes. This exhibition, marking the 200th anniversary of her birth, takes a more personal look at the monarch’s life – in the very house where she was told she would be queen at 18. From the fantasy worlds of her childhood to her friendship with her servant Abdul Karim, the show offers insights into the private life behind the public image. Exhibits include a scrapbook of mementos created by her German governess which is on public display for the first time, items from her private wardrobe and examples of her diaries.

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