Exhibition and event highlights 2016 2/2/2016

Ashmolean Museum

Storms, war and shipwrecks: treasures from the Sicilian seas
21st June‒ 25th September 2016
Storms, War and Shipwrecks tells the extraordinary story of the island at the crossroads of the Mediterranean through the discoveries made by underwater archaeologists. For 2500 years, Sicily was the place where great ancient civilizations met and fought. Its rich and varied island culture has been marked by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans. This major summer exhibition explores the roots of this multi-cultural heritage through objects rescued from the bottom of the sea ‒ from chance finds to excavated shipwrecks, from the pioneering Phoenician traders to the Emperors of Byzantium.

Elizabeth Price: the Contemporary Art Society award
18th March ‒ 15th  May 2016
Elizabeth Price, winner of the 2013 Contemporary Art Society Award, has created a new work in response to the collections and archives allof the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers museums. The new commission is a twenty minute, two-screen digital video which employs the museums’ photographic and graphic archives. It is a fiction, set to melody and percussion, which is narrated by a ‘chorus’ of museum administrators who are organizing the records of Arthur Evans’s excavation of the Cretan city of Knossos. The administrators use Evans’s extraordinary documents and photographs to figuratively reconstruct the Knossos Labyrinth within the museum’s computer server. They then imagine its involuted space as a virtual chamber through which museum objects digitally flow, clatter and cascade.


Festival of 50s
14th to 17th July2016
An amazing weekend of 1950s fun, including live music, food, fashion, furniture and transport, exploring the 1950s home and community life, a 1950s cinema evening, hairdos and a ride on the period fairground.  An opportunity for audiences to find out about the planned 1950s Town too – part of the Remaking Beamish project.

Great North Festival of agriculture
1st September – 2nd October 2016
A celebration of the rich rural and agricultural heritage of North East England, a month-long programme of events.  The Festival includes Dig for Victory (1st to 4th September), Beamish Leek Show (10th & 11th September), Beamish Agricultural Show (15th to 18th September), Hands-on Heritage Skills (24th & 25th September) and Harvest Festival & Harvest Home (1st & 2nd October).

Black Country Living Museum

British Sign Language Film Festival
3rd – 7thMay 2016
Working collaboratively with local community groups to raise awareness of deafness during Deaf Awareness week, BCLM will be hosting a series of specialist films suitable for deaf and hard of hearing audiences. The festival kicks off with a screening of the award winning drama Battle Lines which was filmed at the Museum in 2014 and directed by deaf director, Julian Peedle-Calloo.

1940s Weekend
16th - 17th July 2016
Following on from the success of last year's event, BCLM will once again be exploring the sights and sounds of wartime Britain in this weekend of 40s fashion, food and entertainment. Banks's will be sponsoring the weekend, along with the rest of the Museum's 2016 events programme, in order to explore the history of the Black Country's brewing industry as well as nationwide advertising campaigns, which ran throughout the 1940s's such as 'beer is best' and 'beer for troops'.

British Library

Shakespeare in ten acts
15th April – 6th September 2016
To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, this major exhibition seeks to cast new light on how Shakespeare became the cultural icon he is today through ten key theatrical performances.

It is often said that Shakespeare's work is universal, but this is to ignore the fact that his plays have been constantly reinvented to suit the times. Across the centuries, Shakespeare's plays have been transformed and translated, faked and forged, revised, recast and redesigned to appeal to new generations of theatre-goers in Britain and around the world. This exhibition explores the impact of ten significant theatrical moments from Shakespeare's first production of Hamlet to a digital-age deconstruction for the 21st century.

Late at the library: World Book Night celebrates Shakespeare
23rd April 2016
Happy Bard day! It's World Book Night and Shakespeare's birthday. The date also marks the 400th anniversary of his death. The British Library offers a night of festivities, in honour of our greatest writer with special guests, performance, music and food and drink. Entry to the new exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts is included in the ticket price.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall

Viking Voyagers
Until 2nd January 2017
Take an epic journey into the Viking world. Discover the secret of the Vikings' success and explore the truth behind the popular myth of the bloodthirsty raiders. Encounter Norse voyagers, experience Viking life over 1000 years ago and climb aboard a full scale replica Viking ship. Get up close to rare antiquities on loan from the British Museum, National Museum of Ireland, Manx National Heritage and National Museum of Denmark, many on display for the first time in the UK.

Cnut 1000: Empire of the Sea conference
10th -13th March 2016
Join a stellar cast of international scholars for this once-in-a-generation conference on the millennium anniversary of King Cnut's conquest of England. Share in the latest research and debate in early medieval maritime history and archaeology and the heritage of northern European boatbuilding. Enjoy an exclusive private tour of Viking Voyagers and relive the land and seascapes of the Vikings in Cornwall with the optional guided field trip.

National Museum Cardiff

Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology
26th January – 30th October 2016       
Step into the world of famous explorers and travel on an adventure uncovering treasures from around the world at this exciting new exhibition at National Museum Cardiff.

To celebrate 2016, The Year of Adventure in Wales, we're hosting extraordinary treasures from popular culture including the hat, whip and jacket of Indiana Jones, crystal skulls, Inca gold and early finds such as Egyptian Mummies.

The exhibition will tell the stories behind great archaeological discoveries from the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Rome, Pre-Columbian America and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), some of which have never been seen in Wales before. It will include a whole host of fascinating objects and treasures from ancient worlds as well as more recent examples uncovered in Wales.

War’s Hell: The Battle of Mametz Wood in Art
opening on 30th April 2016
This major exhibition explores the human response to the battle of Mametz Wood - the art, poetry and writing by those who were there, as well as work by those who have been drawn to respond since.   The show explores how this particular battle has become embedded in the Welsh national identity and has since come to represent the bravery and sacrifice of Welsh troops in the First World War. 

On display will be Christopher Williams’s major painting The Welsh Division at the Battle of Mametz Wood, commissioned by David Lloyd George to commemorate the battle in 1916. Also on display will be an important selection of David Jones’s art works, including sketchbook drawings that he completed whilst in the trenches and the Frontispiece and Tailpiece for ‘In Parenthesis’.

Natural History Museum

Colour and Vision
15th July – 6th November 2016
Discover the earliest life on Earth, and trace the intertwined evolutionary history of colour and vision. Find out how early interactions gave rise to the wide variety of colours that we now see in the natural world.  Discover rare and unusual specimens that show the range of ways in which colour is used in nature - from a warning or disguise, to an irresistible invitation. Take a look through different animals' eyes to find out how they see colour, and reveal surprises hidden from our view. And discover how colour in nature has inspired artists, influenced design, and inspired innovation.

Orchid Observers: citizen science
Photograph wild orchids and extract data from three centuries of Museum specimens to help us examine what impact climate change is having on the UK's orchids. Recent research indicates that climate change is affecting the flowering time of the early spider orchid, Ophrys sphegodes. We want to find out if this is true for other wild orchids and whether all species are responding in the same way, starting with 29 species. Help the Museum by photographing orchids in the UK this spring and summer, and sending them the images with the date and location. The Museum also has around 15,000 orchid specimens in the Museum's British and Irish herbarium. Collected over three centuries, they can tell us about flowering times in the past, and you can help extracting data from these specimens.

Royal Museums Greenwich

400th Anniversary of the Queen's House
Queen's House
July 2016
Designed by Inigo Jones in 1616 for the wife of James I, Anne of Denmark, the Queen's House was the first classical building in the country and is an acknowledged masterpiece of 17th-century architecture.

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of its commissioning and design, the Queen's House reopens with refurbished galleries, including the King's Presence Chamber and the Tulip Stairs, and introduces new displays and interpretation to visitors. Focusing on the iconic people and events, artists, designers and architects key to understanding the building's history and its significance today, the re-displays will also capitalize on the great strengths of the National Maritime Museum's world-class art collection, along with significant loans from both public and private collections.  As well as the new displays, Orazio Gentileschi's Joseph and Potiphar's Wife will return to this iconic building after 360 years and put on display for visitors to see in its original surroundings for the first time since 1650. The painting, generously lent by Her Majesty The Queen from the Royal Collection, was one of a sequence commissioned for the Queen's House by King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria.

Seduction and Celebrity: The Spectacular Life of Emma Hamilton
National Maritime Museum
Opens 4th November 2016
From humble origins, Emma Hamilton rose to national and international fame as a model, performer and interpreter of neo-classical fashion. Within the public mind, however, she typically continues to occupy a passive and supporting role, and is often remembered simply as the mistress of Britain's greatest naval hero, Admiral Lord Nelson. This landmark exhibition recovers Emma from myth and misrepresentation, and reveals her to be an active and influential historical actor in her own right: one of the greatest female lives of her era.

Emma's story will be told through over 200 objects from public and private lenders around a core from the Museum's own collections. Emma's compelling story will be explored through exceptional fine art; antiquities that inspired Emma's famous 'attitudes'; costumes that show her impact on contemporary fashions; prints and caricatures that carried her image to a mass audience; her personal letters and those of Nelson and William Hamilton; and finally the uniform coat that Nelson wore at Trafalgar, retained by Emma until destitution forced her to part with it.

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Fashion Cities Africa,
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
30th April 2016 – 8th January 2017
This first major UK exhibition dedicated to contemporary African fashion will explore fashion and style in four cities at the compass points of the African continent - Casablanca in Morocco, Lagos in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Johannesburg in South Africa.  Fashion Cities Africa will focus on the style choices of individual ‘fashion agents’ from each city - from designers and stylists to photographers and bloggers.

Dr Blighty,
Royal Pavilion Garden
24th – 29th May 2016
Dr Blighty will look at the untold story of the hundreds of thousands of men who travelled from India to fight for the Allies in the First World War, and the experiences of the injured soldiers who came to be treated in Brighton. 100 years ago, Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Estate was used as a hospital for wounded Indian soldiers, and this use will be reimagined in an outdoor installation in the Royal Pavilion Garden. Created by Nutkhut for 14-18 NOW and the 50th anniversary of Brighton Festival, this free, immersive work will use video installations and documents and images from the time, to bring the stories of the Indian soldiers to life.

Science Museum Group

Wonder Materials: Graphene and Beyond
23rd July 2016 – 25th June 2017
This major exhibition tells the story of graphene, the world's first two-dimensional material. Graphene is the strongest, lightest and most conductive material in the world, harder than diamond and stronger than steel.  Graphene is super thin, invisible to the eye, but when added to other materials, has the potential to change the world in a host of areas, from energy to electronics. Wonder Materials leads us into the world of the people and the places behind this scientific journey of discovery, through the past, present and into the imagined future of graphene, and includes a specially commissioned digital art installation by acclaimed artists Random International.  Curated by the Museum of Science and Industry, in partnership with the National Graphene Institute.

Alec Soth: Gathered Leaves
National Media Museum
22nd April – 26th June 2016
Alec Soth is widely considered to be one of the world's foremost documentary photographers. Recently described by the Telegraph as the 'greatest living photographer of America's social and geographical landscape', Soth is admired for his experimentation across exhibition, book, magazine and digital forms. This exhibition presents his four signature series – Sleeping by the Mississippi (2004), Niagara (2006), Broken Manual (2010) and the most recent, Songbook (2014) – and highlights his remarkable career and distinctive vision.

Great Interactions: Photographs by Polly Braden
National Media Museum
27th February – 10th April 2016
There are around 1.5 million people in the UK with a learning disability and 500,000 with autism. Photographer Polly Braden has spent the past two years working with some of those supported by the charity MacIntyre, capturing everyday moments, achievements and milestones. The subject is complex but the aim is simple: to highlight everyday interactions and life-changing experiences.

Scotsman Season
National Railway Museum
February 2016 – July 2016
The National Railway Museum will offer three spectacular showcases at its York-based site, giving the public the chance to explore the history and celebrity of the nation's favourite steam star, Flying Scotsman.

With the decade-long, £4.2m restoration of the locomotive nearing completion, the museum is planning an inaugural run between London Kings Cross and York in late February. Visitors will also be able to explore 'Starring Scotsman', a special Gallery exhibition exploring the rollercoaster history of the iconic engine (runs until 19 June).

In 'Stunts, Speed and Style', a free display running from 25th March to 8th May, visitors will be able to get on board the cabs of four locomotives, including Flying Scotsman itself.

Finally, 'Service with Style' is an innovative, experiential ticketed exhibition also running from 25th March to 8th May. The exhibition will enable visitors to immerse themselves the glamour and luxury of the Flying Scotsman train service throughout the eras. Three carriages of the kind that travelled the Flying Scotsman route will house audio and film clips, archive news footage and signature tastes inspired by historic on-board menus.  In July the Flying Scotsman will appear at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius
Science Museum
10th February – 4th September 2016
A UK premiere, this hugely popular touring exhibition will explore the impressive technical imagination of Leonardo da Vinci, brought to life through a remarkable collection of historical models, video installations and interactive displays. This exhibition places Leonardo da Vinci's 'inventions' in the context of his wider observational studies and drawings, and explores the inspiration he gained from the natural world.

Mathematics: The David and Claudia Harding Gallery
opening in December 2016
Mathematics is too often perceived as dry and complex, but Mathematics: The David and Claudia Harding Gallery will tell stories that place the subject at the heart of our lives, exploring how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the modern world.

Designed by the world-renowned Zaha Hadid Architects, this outstanding new gallery has been made possible by the largest individual donation ever made to the Science Museum, an incredible £5 million gift from David and Claudia Harding.

The stories told in the gallery will span 400 years of human ingenuity, from the Renaissance to the present day, with objects ranging from intriguing hand-held mathematical instruments to a 1929 experimental aircraft – the largest object in the gallery.


Tate’s 2016 highlights include a major retrospective of Georgia O'Keeffe, a century after her New York debut; Performing for the Camera, which explores how photography has captured performances - from the art of the 1960s to today’s trend for selfies; Painting with Light, which celebrates the conversation between early photography and Pre-Raphaelite art; and Tate Liverpool's exhibition on Francis Bacon and the ghostly framing device in many of his iconic paintings.

Tullie House & Art Gallery

Cumbria Art - Picturing Places
5th March – 5th June 2016
This wide-ranging exhibition focuses on Cumbria's rich artistic heritage represented in Tullie House Museum's extensive collection of Cumbrian art. It features specific places depicted by nationally recognised artists from past and present, including Carlisle, the Lake District, Cumbria and further afield.
Highlights include Sam Bough's atmospheric landscapes, William James Blacklock's sensitive watercolours and Thomas Bushby's chocolate-box images of Carlisle. More recent vibrant coloured paintings by Winifred Nicholson contrast with Sheila Fell's more subdued tones. Julian Cooper's massive painting of Honister Crag in the Lake District is the highlight of the contemporary artists on show.  This exhibition has already been selected as one of Cumbria Tourism's Top 10 things to do in Spring

Deadly Dragons
18th June – 9th October 2016
This  new exhibition developed by Seven Stories and Cressida Cowell, will include Cressida's original drawings, manuscripts and working processes from her
hugely popular How to Train Your Dragon book series, which have also been made into a popular film by DreamWorks animation. A Viking's Guide to Deadly Dragons will transport visitors back in time to the Dark Ages, a world where Vikings ruled and dragons roamed. With Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as the unlikely hero, discover the tribe of Hairy Hooligans, his island home of Berk, his hunting dragon Toothless and his quest to become a hero the hard way. Dare to explore the wild dragon cliffs, sail on a Viking longship, share epic yarns in the Great Hall and learn to speak Dragonese.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell
Great North Museum Hancock
30th January - Tuesday 3rd May 2016
She was an archaeologist, diplomat, linguist, writer, mountaineer and explorer. Discover the woman from County Durham, who in 1921 advised Winston Churchill on the country that became Iraq, and helped to shape the Middle East after World War I.

Future Makers
Across Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums venues
17th February – 23rd April 2016
Future Makers is a series of events that will enable children - and adults - to use new technologies for designing and making. From Minecraft sessions at Arbeia Roman Fort to a coders' 'hackathon' at Stephenson Railway Museum, Future Makers seeks to inspire a new breed of makers whilst challenging preconceptions of what museums and their collections mean in the digital age. It's all about experimenting, creating and learning new skills.  

National Museum of the Royal Navy

 Battle of Jutland
The Great War at Sea programme continues this year with the launch of a blockbuster exhibition about the Battle of Jutland, the greatest naval battle of all time, and the opening of a unique survivor from the battle HMS Caroline in Belfast.

 On 12th May 2016, in the centenary year, NMRN will open ‘36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War.’ The exhibition, the largest held, will be the most comprehensive exhibition ever staged on the subject, and will highlight the essential role of the British Royal Navy in winning the First World War.

Through never-before-seen displays and immersive galleries the exhibition will challenge the belief that the Battle of Jutland – between the German Imperial Fleet and the British Grand Fleet in the North Sea - was a German victory. The National Museum of the Royal Navy will present the battle as a British victory, both tactically and strategically.

Working in collaboration with IWM (Imperial War Museums), the exhibition will provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to view the NMRN’s collection together with objects from 21 private lenders and five public organisations.  The exhibition launch coincides with the NMRN’s other major contribution to the Jutland centenary, the opening of the battle’s only survivor HMS Caroline, in Belfast in May 2016.


Botticelli Reimagined
5th March – 3rd July 2016
This innovative exhibition will explore the variety of ways artists and designers from the Pre-Raphaelites to the present have responded to the artistic legacy of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), assembling 150 works from around the world. Botticelli is now celebrated as one of the greatest artists of all time, but was largely forgotten after his death until his work was progressively rediscovered in the 19th century. Botticelli Reimagined will be the largest Botticelli exhibition in Britain since 1930. It will include around 50 original works by Botticelli from great collections across the world shown alongside more recent masterpieces of art and design including work by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, René Magritte, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman. The exhibition is organised by the V&A and the Gemäldegalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design
18th June – 6th November 2016
Ove Arup (1895-1988) was the most influential engineer of the 20th century and the pioneer of a multidisciplinary approach to design that has defined the way engineering is understood and practiced today. This exhibition will focus on the design philosophy of Ove Arup, revealing his ideas of collaborative working, total architecture and design as a humanistic and technological tool for social responsibility. On display will be designs for some of Arup’s first projects such as Sydney Opera House and the Penguin Pool at London Zoo, including previously unseen archival materials, shown alongside recent projects by Arup, the global engineering consultancy. There will be large-scale prototypes and building components as well as digital animations and models. The exhibition is part of the V&A’s 2016 Engineering Season which will also comprise a site-specific installation in the John Madejski Garden by engineer and architect Achim Menges and an associated programme of talks, workshops and events.

Wallace Collection

'The Middle'
15th September – 27th November 2016
The Wallace Collection presents Tom Ellis, a contemporary artist, who will be responding to our permanent Collection.

'Does Religion Belong in Museums?
21st - 22nd March, 2016
As part of the Wallace Collection's participation in the multi-venue exhibition Stations of the Cross: Art and Passion join Aaron Rosen, author of Art and Religion in the 21st Century, Christoph Vogtherr, Director of the Wallace Collection, and Revd Professor David Jasper, University of Glasgow, and Jonathan Ruffer, Chairman of Ruffer LLP and Auckland Castle Trust  as they discuss this contentious topic.