London Exhibitions 2019: Best shows and what to see in the new year

2018 has been another busy year in museum-land, with a string of stellar shows. But as attention now turns to the year ahead, it looks like the next 12 months could be an even more remarkable year for museum lovers. I have a long, long, (long), list of what I’m looking forward to seeing, but after much thought I’ve managed to pick my 5 highlights of the best exhibitions to see in London in 2019. Let’s get to it….

Insta-heaven at Tate

What’s the show? Olafur Eliasson at Tate Modern. Opens 11 July 2019.
Why should you see it? This is going to be the hottest ticket in town over the summer. The AMAZING Olafur Eliasson returns to Tate Modern (he previously created the Weather Project for the Turbine Hall commission in 2003) for a major new survey of his career that screams blockbuster. There’ll be immersive installations, captivating “experiences” and a major new outdoor artwork. He’ll even be taking over Tate Modern’s Terrace Bar. Eliasson’s work is the very definition of the #popyacolour hashtag so you’re gonna wanna clear some space in the ‘gram for this!

Brexit Britain?

What’s the show? Only Human: Photographs by Martin Parr at the National Portrait Gallery. Opens 7 March 2019.
Why should you see it? Because in the year that the UK (probably) leaves the European Union, Martin Parr’s wry eye on Britishness is just the antidote we need to all the guff and hyperbole of Brexit. There’ll be a special section on Parr’s take on the social climate in the aftermath of the EU referendum as well as a look at national identity today. I’m also really excited to see the never-before-seen portraits of famous personalities such as Vivienne Westwood, Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry. I can’t think of a better way to escape all the Brexit noise and to get some real perspective on who we are as a nation.

Dame Vivienne Westwood, London, 2012 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery

Kapoor in the country (house)

What’s the show? Anish Kapoor at Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery. Opens 16 March 2019.
Why should you see it? This one is a double whammy. Not only is Anish Kapoor one of the world’s most well-known — and fantastic! — artists, this will be the inaugural exhibition in the newly-restored Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing in West London. It was built by the architect Sir John Soane, who many of you will know from the quirky house and museum bearing his name in Central London (I certainly do after working there for 4 years!). This Manor was Soane’s country house and it’s about to reopen after a £12 million restoration. Kapoor will present a series of sculptures which will “challenge our traditional notion of form and space”. I think this is gonna be a good one.

Munch at the Museum

What’s the show? Edvard Munch: love and angst at the British Museum. Opens 11 April 2019.
Why should you see it? I’m doing the PR for this one and I’m dubbing it the BEST EXHIBITION IN LONDON IN 2019! Seriously though, this is going to a fascinating and very moving show about the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch whose work the Scream is the second most well-known image in all of art. This exhibition will look at Munch’s immense talent for depicting raw human emotion — from love and desire, to jealousy, loneliness, anxiety and grief. It’s a collaboration with the Munch Museum in Oslo and it’ll be a rare chance to catch some of these stunning works in the UK.

Jeff Koons (b. 1955) Seated Ballerina © Jeff Koons

A Koons coup

What’s the show? Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean. Opens 7 February 2019.
Why should you see it? Ok, I’m cheating here a little bit as Oxford obviously isn’t in London. But it’s only an hour away by train which quite frankly is less time than it takes to get from one side of the capital to the other, so throw in one the most famous artists on the planet and this exhibition definitely makes my list! Curated by Koons himself the show will feature seventeen important works, fourteen of which have never been exhibited in the UK before. Expect shimmer, shine and sculpture and a whole lot of metallic colour. Koons is a superstar and this is definitely going to be a controversial tour-de-force this spring that’ll be well worth the trip. I can’t wait.

I want to know what you are looking forward to seeing in 2019 — give me your tips on Twitter and Instagram!