With London’s museums and galleries closed for so long, it’s hard to remember a time when perusing the capital’s wealth of art was a weekend staple. As the galleries gear up to (hopefully) open their doors, things are a bit different to before the pandemic. To ensure social distancing, it’s likely you’ll need to book ahead, for example, so always check.
Here are five central London shows to add to your post-lockdown must-see list:
Step into a painting
Get up close and personal with Jan Gossaert’s masterpiece The Adoration of the Kings. Enter a wraparound chamber where a video of the painting zooms in close while a soundtrack takes you back to the biblical times of its subject. National Gallery, 17 May – 13 June.
James Barnor: Accra/London – a retrospective
British-Ghanaian photographer James Barnor started documenting the people of Accra and London in the 1950s. This retrospective show, spanning six decades, brings together studio portraits, photojournalism and street photography. Serpentine North Gallery, 19 May – October.
David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020
From his Normandy home, David Hockney responded to the coronavirus crisis with 116 iPad drawings of the landscape around him. Printed and put on display, the works are a burst of creativity and a celebration of the joy and restorative powers of the natural world. Royal Academy, 23 May – 26 September.
John Akomfrah: The Unintended Beauty of Disaster
John Akomfrah confronts big topics through his art – ecological disaster, colonialism and the Black Lives Matter movement among them. The show’s centrepiece is a 50-minute, three screen film on an epic scale. Lisson Gallery, until 5 June.
Reflections: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa
Diverse show of work collected over the past decade with drawings, prints, etchings and photographs documenting issues affecting the Middle East and North Africa, including the war in Syria, the refugee crisis and changing attitudes to gender. British Museum, 17 May – 15 August.