Five exhibitions to see this September

Fancy seeing something a bit special this month? We've selected five exceptional exhibitions around the UK that might surprise you.

Expect the unexpected from this month's must-see exhibitions: whether that's dangerous messages hidden in an ornate salt cellar, unicorn horns, or exhibits springing to life.

All our picks are either open already or will launch in September, and you can enjoy free entry or 50% off with a National Art Pass.

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I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent

Hidden within the behemoth of the British Museum, a treasure trove of objects bears witness to history’s dissenters – those who left their mark even in the face of indomitable authority. From Babylonian graffiti to an anti-Trump ‘pussyhat’, they tell tales of conviction, wit and sheer ballsiness; so who better to pick out a selection from the stores than the editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop? Ranging from obscene designs on a Roman oil lamp to Banksy’s 2006 hoax installation in the museum itself, the objects show that, whatever the regime, dissenters can never truly be silenced.

Human heart in heart-shaped lead and silver case, found concealed in a niche in the pillar in the crypt beneath Christ’s Church, Cork, 12th or 13th century

Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft

We all need a little magic in our lives, and you might find it’s more a part of yours than you think. Own a lucky object? Happy to walk under a ladder? This exhibition, beginning in 12th-century Europe, explores how belief in supernatural powers is an integral part of human experience. From crystal balls and ‘unicorn’ horns to lead-encased human hearts and evidence from witchcraft trials, magic played a key part in how our ancestors made sense of the world and tried to control it. Even in our own times, it's interesting that no one has chosen to open a glass flask purported to contain a troublesome witch...

Fabergé Silver Elephant Automaton, Royal Collection Trust

The Marvellous Mechanical Museum

If the idea of museum exhibits coming to life is the stuff of dreams rather than nightmares for you, don’t miss this unique exhibition tracing the history of automata and kinetic art. Dating from 1625 to the present, objects include a tiny Fabergé elephant, an eerie mechanical hand (Crimson Prince by Tim Lewis) and a rare print of 18th-century androids that Mary Shelley may have seen a couple of years before she wrote Frankenstein. Exploring the line between engineering and art, the show also asks why we are drawn to lifelike machines and where this fascination may take us in future.

Ollie Dook, Visit to the Zoo

Ollie Dook: Of Landscape Immersion

Get outside while the weather's still good and enjoy the ever-fascinating sculptures and installations at Jupiter Artland. All the works in the permanent collection were designed in response to the landscape, and this theme is continued in Ollie Dook’s first outdoor commission, Of Landscape Immersion. Dook goes even further and considers the animals as well. By creating an enclosure that draws parallels with zoos and contained microclimates, he positions the audience as a spectacle to be observed themselves.

Normandie in New York, 1935-39

Ocean Liners: Speed & Style

The brand new V&A Museum of Design Dundee opens this month, an architectural giant to rival the ocean liners that star in its first exhibition. Ocean Liners: Speed and Style is the first show to explore the international impact of these ‘floating palaces’, from their groundbreaking engineering to on-board fashions. Over 250 objects, ranging from a panel fragment from the first-class lounge of the Titanic to a Cartier tiara saved from the sinking Louisiana, illustrate the glamour, size and innovation of vessels that revolutionised ocean travel from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century.

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