Seven blockbuster exhibitions to see this autumn

It’s raining blockbusters this autumn – we’ve rounded up seven for you to catch as the nights start drawing in.

Giant reputations, gargantuan ambitions and gigantic ships: these exhibitions all merit the term 'blockbuster' (and all are 50% off with a National Art Pass or Student Art Pass.) From medieval magic to cutting-edge technology, you won’t be short of things to marvel at this autumn.

No Man’s Sky, 2016


Gaming has experienced a revolution over the past 15 years, in terms of both technology and culture. This exhibition explores how the internet and social media have opened up ever more groundbreaking design possibilities, and looks at the political elements and evolution of player communities. If your thumbs start twitching, there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on interaction.

Fernand Léger, Two Women Holding Flowers, 1954

Fernand Léger

Painter, sculptor and filmmaker Fernand Léger took everything the first half of the 20th century could throw at him and put it into his work. Technologies and techniques including photography, typography and graphic design were all incorporated into his practice and this exhibition includes collaborations with architects Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. This is the first major UK show of his work in 30 years.

Normandie in New York, 1935-39

Ocean Liners: Speed & Style

The first exhibition at the new V&A Museum of Design Dundee revisits the golden age of the ocean liner. The largest machines of their time, these vessels were symbols of modernity, embodying groundbreaking technology and unprecedented luxury in travel. Drawing together rarely seen onboard objects including furniture, fashion and textiles with photographs and film, this exhibition explores the cultural and social impact of these 'floating palaces'.

Giovanni Bellini, The Agony in the Garden, c1465

Mantegna and Bellini

Two works hanging quietly side by side in the National Gallery for well over a century have found themselves at the centre of a fascinating investigation into a Renaissance friendship. Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516) and Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506) both depicted The Agony in the Garden, but their artistic connection extended throughout their lives and across distances. In a sense, the two masters meet again in this exhibition bringing together their paintings, drawings and sculpture.

Edward Burne-Jones, Laus Veneris, 1873-8

Edward Burne-Jones

Edward Burne-Jones – the 'last of the Pre-Raphaelites' – was at odds with his time. In the great age of industry, he wandered through dreamworlds and mythical lands, stubbornly turning his back on the march of progress. Through his paintings, stained glass and tapestries, this major London retrospective reveals and explores his independent spirit for the first time in 40 years.

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

From hiding 'protective' animal hearts in chimneys to gazing at crystal balls, our relationship with the supernatural has ranged from the macabre to the beautiful throughout history. This exhibition explores the various beliefs that have taken hold over the centuries, and asks just how much magical thinking is still a part of our daily lives.

Thomas Gainsborough, Margaret and Mary Gainsborough, c1770-74

Gainsborough’s Family Album

There's something of a family reunion happening at the National Portrait Gallery this autumn. Thomas Gainsborough, 18th-century Britain's pre-eminent portraitist, famously painted his daughters from children to adults, and this exhibition brings together all 12 of the surviving pictures. Over 50 family portraits are on display altogether, including a number never before exhibited in the UK.

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