The exhibitions you must see this June
Alice in Wonderland, Rachel Maclean's nightmarish fairytales and a journey back to the Roaring Twenties – book ahead for these exhibitions as museums reopen.
Spring has sprung and the grass is looking greener – why not celebrate with a visit to one of the exhibitions you’ve been waiting to tick off your wishlist? Museums and galleries are reopening, and there are loads of fantastic exhibitions to get you back into your groove.
Women dominate the list this month as the British Library welcomes an exhibition exploring the ongoing battle for women’s rights, while the Laing Art Gallery showcases the extraordinary careers of four women artists battling against the 20th-century patriarchy, and artist Lisa Brice reclaims the female nude at Charleston.
Further highlights include poignant explorations of culture – photographer Claudia Andujar shares her work documenting and defending the Yanomami indigenous peoples of Brazil at the Barbican, and Mohamed Bourouissa tells the stories of marginalised communities on film at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art.
And don’t miss your last chance to see two major exhibitions closing soon: the powerful photography of artist and activist Zanele Muholi at Tate Modern, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's enigmatic portraits at Tate Britain, both closing 31 May.
These are our picks to get you started, but don’t forget there’s so much more out there to enjoy – keep an eye on our full exhibition listings to plan your summer adventures and sign up to Art in Your Inbox for updates on what to see.
- Barbican Art Gallery, London
- 17 June – 29 August 2021
Using photography as a tool to drive political change, Claudia Andujar has been working with the Yanomami group of indigenous peoples in Brazil for over 50 years. Her incredible body of work documents their lives and culture, while exploring the disastrous events that are threatening their survival. On display are Andujar’s photographs and audio-visual installations as well as drawings by the Yanomami.
- V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum), London
- 22 May – 31 December 2021
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is the inspiration behind this major exhibition exploring the story that became a global phenomenon. The exhibition charts the book's influence on art, literature and popular culture for over a century and features the many artistic creations it's inspired, from fashion and photography to ballet.
- Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
- 26 April 2021 – 20 February 2022
If the silver screen’s your thing, why not check out the incredible archive of special-effects guru Ray Harryhausen? This exhibition celebrates the artist’s mesmerising creations for films such as Mighty Joe Young (1949) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963), most of which have had a lasting effect on the film industry and special effects today.
- Natural History Museum, London
- 17 May 2021 – 3 January 2022
Real and magical animals collide in this exhibition inspired by the origins of mythical creatures. Explore how nifflers, dragons, unicorns and many more adorable (fictitious) beasts were inspired by real-life animals, creating legends that last a lifetime.
- Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London
- 21 May – 1 August 2021
Multimedia artist Mohamed Bourouissa embeds himself in the communities he documents. In his work Horse Day (2014-15) he lived in North Philadelphia for eight months to make a ‘contemporary American cowboy movie’. This exhibition features some his best-known works as well as new projects.
- Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
- 18 May – 20 June 2021
With drawings, watercolours and portraits by Pre-Raphaelite heavyweights such as Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, this exhibition features a rich range of works on paper produced by a collective of artists known for celebrating beauty.
- British Library, London
- 23 October 2020 – 1 August 2021
This anticipated exhibition explores the fight for women’s rights past and present, from the campaigns for women’s suffrage to the battles being fought today such as the strive to end period poverty. Your ticket to Unfinished Business also includes entry to Khadija Saye: in this space we breathe, a display of nine powerful portraits that explore spirituality and black experience.
- Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester
- 25 November 2020 – 31 October 2021
Reflect on the incredible creativity that came out of British homes during lockdown, as Manchester Art Gallery welcomes an exhibition of work featured in Grayson Perry’s Channel 4 hit, Grayson’s Art Club. The exhibition also includes art made by the likes of comedians Noel Fielding and Joe Lycett as well as by well-known artists such as sculptor Antony Gormley.
- Charleston, Lewes
- 19 May – 30 August 2021
Attempting to change the traditional relationship between artist and model, Lisa Brice’s portraits of female nudes feature women devoid of features and defining factors, presenting a complicated perspective of the female nude. Tickets also include entry to an exhibition of work by Nina Hamnett, known for her enigmatic and intimate portraiture.
- Tate Liverpool, Liverpool
- 16 September 2020 – 5 September 2021
This major exploration of British photographer Don McCullin’s work focuses on his war photography, with many images taken during conflicts in Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Lebanon and Biafra. Also on display is a special collection of photographs depicting life and industry in northern towns and cities during the 1960s and 70s.
- Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh
- 8 May – 18 July 2021
Capitalist nightmares and bright pink tutus combine in the woods of Jupiter Artland, as multimedia artist Rachel Maclean introduces you to the outrageous, colourful and upside-down world of princess Mimi. Created in collaboration with Scottish teens, this vibrant installation explores the pressures facing young people due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is accompanied by a solo-exhibition featuring four key works from the artist's career.
- V&A Dundee, Dundee
- 27 March 2021 – 9 January 2022
From Studio 54 in New York to the Haçienda in Manchester, nightclubs have long been the at the centre of pop culture in city communities. This exhibition explores how light, sound, design, fashion and graphic art combine to create the most iconic party places around the world.
- Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne
- 17 May – 21 August 2021
This exhibition showcases the work of four pioneering women artists of the 20th century: Vanessa Bell, Gwen John, Laura Knight and Dod Procter, all of whom were battling against a patriarchal society rooted in male tradition. Challenging Convention explores the development of modernism, the transformation of society at the time, and the beginnings of women’s liberation.
- Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
- 17 May – 14 July 2021
Explore the many famous faces photographed by iconic high-society photographer Cecil Beaton in this star-studded exhibition. Featuring everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Salvador Dalí, Beaton’s photographs are known for depicting the glamorous life he was immersed in throughout his career, starting in the Roaring Twenties.
- Towner Eastbourne, Eastbourne
- 18 May – 26 September 2021
Known for his work as an official war artist during both the First and Second World Wars, John Nash is celebrated for his emotive paintings of conflict as well as his horticultural landscapes. The breadth of his skill is on display here, as the exhibition also includes his wood engravings, line drawings and watercolours.