From photos celebrating the Amazons’ indigenous peoples to a collection of portraits capturing the life of the iconic Amy Winehouse, here’s our rundown of 12 of the best photography exhibitions in London.
When it comes to art exhibitions and museums in London Town, we’re more than spoiled for choice. In fact, we’d go as far to say that our dear city has some of the best museums in the world. But we’d also argue that we’re not doing too badly on the photography exhibitions front either. From portraits capturing the everyday life of Spanish Harlem and the Bronx in New York City, to magical behind-the-scenes images of the Harry Potter film series, here’s our rundown of 12 of the best photography exhibitions in London to explore in 2022:
1. Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the Natural History Museum
Starting off this list of the best photography exhibitions in London is one of the city’s most beloved – the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the famous Natural History Museum.
Open daily from now until June 5, the exhibition is designed to explore the natural world in all of its fragility and diversity, with 100 powerful photos telling the story of a planet under pressure.
From sleeping black bear cubs being gazed upon by the watchful eye of a juvenile bald eagle to kangaroos fleeing Australia’s devastating bushfires, the imagery on show here is incredibly powerful and inspiring.
Accompanied by commentary from the museum’s scientists and experts, the exhibition will leave you with a deeper understanding of the issues facing nature and the actions we all need to take to protect it.
You’ll find the exhibition at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD. Closest station is South Kensington.
2. Amazônia at the Science Museum
Continuing with the natural world theme, the next entry on this list is a celebration of the indigenous peoples and the various different species of wildlife living within the world’s largest rainforest – the mighty Amazon.
Brought to you by Sebastião Salgado – the winner of the 2021 Praemium Imperiale global arts prize – Amazônia will take you on a journey to see 200 powerful black-and-white photographs taken during Salgado’s seven-year-long stint in the rainforest.
As you wander around, you’ll unearth images of intrepid boat journeys, cascading waterfalls and stormy skies, as well as portraits of indigenous leaders and their communities. The central theme is designed to uncover Salgado’s vision of the Amazon when the forest is approaching a crucial tipping point in the fight against climate change.
You’ll find the exhibition at the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2DD. Nearest station is South Kensington.
3. Pretty Little London at The Royal Exchange
New at The Royal Exchange this February is a photography exhibition brought to you by the Instagram account Pretty Little London, featuring a diverse selection of never-before-seen images of the City by artistic duo Sara Helen Santin and Andrea Di Filippo.
Held in the courtyard of this iconic Bank building, you’ll be able to view a whole host of photos which show London at its most picturesque. From hidden gems just around the corner from Bank underground station to cute little bookshops off the King’s Road, you’ll be able to discover areas of London well off-the beaten track.
The exhibition is free, runs until March and is accompanied by a series of photography workshops by Sara and Andrea themselves.
You’ll find the exhibition at The Royal Exchange, Bank, City of London, EC3V 3LR. Nearest station is Bank.
Next on this roundup of the best photography exhibitions in London is the Sony World Photography Awards at the magnificent Somerset House. Arriving on April 13, the exhibition is often billed as one of the most inspiring fixtures in the photographic calendar, championing and celebrating photographers from over 200 different countries.
From portrait to landscape, architecture to wildlife and fine art to street art, the sheer variety of photography on offer here promises to blow your socks off and immerse you in some of the most compelling stories of today.
A special curation of over a dozen large-scale photographs by the Awards’ ‘2022 Outstanding Contribution to Photography’ recipient, Edward Burtnyksy, will also be on show.
You’ll find the exhibition at Somerset House, The Strand, London, WC2R 1LA. Nearest station is Temple.
5. America in Crisis at the Saatchi Gallery
Running until April 3 at Sloane Square’s Saatchi Gallery, America in Crisis brings together 40 leading American photographers and over 120 different works exploring social change in the United States from the 1960s until today.
Originally conceived in 1969 as a way to assess the state of the nation, it’s since gone on to create a unique dialogue between leading photographers from that time and from the works of their contemporaries.
The at-times immersive exhibition is designed to highlight the themes present in both eras, confronting the myth of American exceptionalism with the reality of current events.
You’ll find the exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY. Nearest station is Sloane Square.
6. International Garden Photographer of the Year at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Home to the largest living plant collection on Planet Earth – yep, seriously – the UNESCO-listed Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew are enough of a draw on their own. But, add in a world-leading photography exhibition and you’ve got yourself a real winner of a day out.
Open until March 6, the International Garden Photographer of the Year features an array of award-winning photographs from the namesake competition, with categories including ‘beautiful gardens’, ‘the beauty of plants’, ‘wildlife in the garden’ and ‘the world of funghi’.
Admission to the exhibition is included within the normal price of entry, and images from the ‘captured at Kew’ special award will also be on display.
You’ll find the exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, London, TW9 3AE. Nearest station is Kew Gardens.
7. Amy: Beyond the Stage at the Design Museum
This one more than deserves its place on this list of the best photography exhibitions in London right now. With her trademark, beehive hair, unparalleled songwriting skills and incredible voice, Amy Winehouse quickly cemented herself as one of the world’s most beloved artists, drawing fans from every corner of the globe – this author included.
Amy: Beyond the Stage has been curated by the Design Museum and The Estate of Amy Winehouse to unravel the creative process behind her music, and pay tribute to her eclectic range of influences.
As you explore, you’ll be able to see some of the outfits she wore during her greatest performances, as well as handwritten lyrics and personal items that have never been exhibited before.
You’ll also be able to see an extensive range of never-been-seen-before photographs, reflecting the cultural icon in all of her magnificent glory.
You’ll find the exhibition at the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, London, W8 6AG. Nearest station is High Street Kensington.
8. Astronomy Photographer of the Year at the National Maritime Museum
If you’re wanting a bit of a break from Planet Earth – and let’s face it, sometimes we all do – get yourself to the National Maritime Museum in the UNESCO-listed borough of Greenwich.
They’re running their Astronomy Photographer of the Year until August 7, which is now in its 13th year. Featuring over 100 different photographs, all mounted on brilliant lightbox displays, the exhibition showcases some of the world’s best space photography.
2021 saw over 4,500 entries from 75 different countries across the globe – so you’re guaranteed to see a whole range of different photography across the exhibition.
You’ll find the exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, Romney Rd, London, SE10 9NF. Nearest stations are Cutty Sark DLR, Maze Hill and Greenwich.
9. Surrealism Beyond Borders at the Tate Modern
Next on our list of the best photography exhibitions in London is Surrealism Beyond Borders at the Tate Modern, open until August 29.
Built around the Surrealism movement – a literary, philosophical and artistic movement that championed the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary – you’ll discover both exquisite works of art and photos from the likes of Lee Miller and Cecilia Porras.
Showcasing over 150 works by artists and photographers from all over the globe, this is not one to be missed.
You’ll find the exhibition at the Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG. Nearest station is London Blackfriars.
10. Helen Levitt: In the Street at The Photographers’ Gallery
Located in the aptly-named Photographers’ Gallery, this fantastic exhibition presents a retrospective spanning fifty years of work by the landmark American street photographer, Helen Levitt.
As you wander through Helen Levitt: In the Street at The Photographers’ Gallery, you’ll see over 130 different works chronicling life in the New York districts of Harlem, the Lower East Side and the Bronx.
Also showing as part of the exhibition is In the Street (1953), an experimental documentary Levitt made with filmmaker Janice Loeb and the writer James Agee, which focused on street life in Spanish Harlem. Please note that the gallery is currently closed for refurbishments and it will open back up in March.
You’ll find the exhibition at 16-18 Ramillies Street, London, W1F 7LW. Nearest station is Oxford Circus.
When it comes to photography exhibitions in London, this one is probably the one for all members of the family. Housing iconic production photographs from all the Harry Potter films, the Harry Potter Photographic Exhibition will give fans a behind-the-scenes, all-access look at some of the movie magic.
Key moments covered include Harry’s first day at Hogwarts in The Philosopher’s Stone all the way through to the Battle of Hogwarts in the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
Perhaps best of all, you’ll be able to ride over London on your very own broomstick – via green screen of course – and can slurp on a lovely pint of butterbeer.
You’ll find the exhibition at the London Film Museum, 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7BN. Nearest station is Covent Garden.
12. The Travel Photographer of the Year at Coal Drops Yard
The final entry onto this list of the best photography exhibitions in London is always a fan favourite – the Travel Photographer of the Year. This year sees its arrival in the newly-renovated Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross St Pancras, and you’ll be able to see it from May onwards.
Admission is free, and there will be 160 different images covering all manner of destinations from around the world. You can also choose your favourite image online, and can make use of the coffee shops and bakeries dotted about the venue.
You’ll find the exhibition at Coal Drops Yard, Stable Street, London, N1C 4DQ. Nearest station is King’s Cross St Pancras.
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