Art galleries to visit when we go #BackToMuseums - Museums Association

Art galleries to visit when we go #BackToMuseums

Our pick of what's on as the UK's galleries prepare to reopen their doors
Art Reopening
Eloise Feilden
'Tarsila with Orange (Tarsila com Laranja)' by Erika Verzutti, whose work will be showcased at Nottingham Contemporary
'Tarsila with Orange (Tarsila com Laranja)' by Erika Verzutti, whose work will be showcased at Nottingham Contemporary Courtesy of Alison Jacques Gallery, London © Erika Verzutti

As spring comes within reach and we move to longer and brighter days, galleries and museums prepare to open their doors again for the first time in months. Visitors in Scotland will be permitted to re-enter museums from as early as 26 April, with those in England following close behind on 17 May, as warmer weather brings with it a hopeful return to normality.

As the countdown to going #BackToMuseums continues apace, we've rounded up what's on at a selection of UK galleries, from Edinburgh to Penzance.

Turner’s House, Twickenham

The house of J.M.W. Turner
The house of J.M.W Turner Anna Kunst for Turner's House Trust

Designed by J.M.W Turner himself in 1813, Turner’s House in Twickenham, which reopened for the public in 2017, will be the setting of a new exhibition of original maritime watercolours and prints by the iconic British artist.

Turner’s English Coasts presents a collection of Turner’s most commercially successful paintings alongside more experimental works, focusing on English maritime and coastal subjects and created during his time living in the house from 1813 to 1826.


The exhibition has been made possible due to a generous loan by the Tate, and is guest curated by Christine Riding, head of the curatorial department and curator of British paintings at the National Gallery. Online expert lectures will be running throughout April in the run up to the exhibition, which opens to the public from 22 May until 5 September.

Celebrate going #BackToMuseums

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The Holburne Museum, Bath

A painting of gondoliers in Venice
The boats and gondoliers of Venice as depicted by Canaletto

Upon reopening this May, the Holburne Museum in Bath will host a set of 23 Canaletto paintings, the largest set of works ever produced by the artist. Leaving their permanent home in a private art collection in Woburn Abbey for the first time in over 70 years, the exhibition explores themes of 18th-century Venice and the Grand Tour alongside Canaletto’s life and works.

With the majority of international travel on hold this year, these classic views of the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco are a rare chance to explore the intricacies of 18th-century Venician life through the eyes of the artist, whose paintings arrived for the first time in Bedford in 1730.


As a complement to Canaletto: Painting Venice, the Holburne Museum will also host two other exhibitions from May. Precious and Rare: Islamic Metalwork from the Courtauld is a collection of medieval Islamic metalworks featuring objects from the 13th to 16th centuries, and Nicholas Pope: Portraits of a Marriage presents ten sculptures of the artist and his wife at different stages of their 40 year marriage.

  • Canaletto: Painting Venice, 17 May to 5 September
  • Precious and Rare: Islamic Metalwork from the Courtauld, 17 January to 1 August
  • Nicholas Pope: Portraits of a Marriage, 17 May to 30 August

Towner Eastbourne

A painting by John Nash
John Nash, 'Oppy Wood, 1917. Evening' Imperial War Museum

Often overshadowed by his brother Paul, John Nash has not been the subject of a major exhibition since 1967 at the Royal Academy’s retrospective of his work – until now. Towner Eastbourne is set to host John Nash: The Landscape of Love and Solace, a showcase of many of the finest depictions of the British landscape created in the 20th century.

Working across a range of mediums, from iconic oil paintings and watercolours to wood engravings and lithographs, Nash was an official war artist in both the first and second world wars. His renowned work The Corn Field, painted in 1918, will feature alongside a variety of other paintings from the war eras.


Works by peers and friends – including those by Edward Bawden, Peter Coker, Charles Ginner, Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, Cedric Morris, Eric Ravilious, and Carel Weight – will be presented alongside his own, contextualising Nash’s life and works within the history of the 20th century.

Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance

A painting of the coast
Laura Knight, 'Sennen Cove' Private collection

Penlee House Gallery and Museum will present over 70 works by Dame Laura Knight in an exhibition celebrating the artist’s extensive 80-year career.

Featuring some of Knight’s most renowned works, including Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring and the Dock at the Nuremberg War Trials, the exhibition gives an overview of her life as an artist, from her time in Cornwall before the first world war, to her later years painting the Gypsy dynasties in Malvern.

Her posters for London Transport and LNER will also be featured in the exhibition, encompassing the huge breadth of her talent and techniques.

National Galleries of Scotland

A man holds a small figurine skeleton
Ray Harryhausen with a skeleton The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

First in line to welcome visitors back in a phased reopening of the National Galleries of Scotland is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern Two), with the Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema exhibition beginning on 26 April.

The exhibition will be followed by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s reopening on 30 April, before the Scottish National Gallery on 6 May, where seven Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including works by van Gogh and Monet, have been made newly accessible to visitors.

Last to open its doors is the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One), with a new display celebrating the work of artist Joan Eardly on the 100th anniversary of her birth.

Whitechapel Gallery, London

A collage
Eileen Agar, 'Erotic Landscape' Photograph courtesy of Pallant House Gallery, Chichester © Doug Atfield

The largest exhibition of Eileen Agar’s work to date will be hosted by Whitechapel Gallery in London from May. Featuring over 100 paintings, collages, photographs and archive materials – much of which has been rarely exhibited in the past – the retrospective exhibition celebrates Agar’s role in the development of 20th-century culture.

Throughout her 70-year career, Agar took inspiration from both Cubism and Surrealism, and her fascination with classical art, mythology, the natural world and sexual pleasure all took shape within her work alongside content mined from her own personal experience.

Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy runs from 19 May to 29 August.

National Gallery, London

A painting by Bellotto
Bernardo Bellotto, 'The Fortress of Königstein from the North' National Gallery

The National Gallery is making plans for its 2021 programme once its doors are back open after 17 May. Exhibitions Sensing the Unseen: Step in Gossaert’s Adoration in Room 1 and Rosalind Nashishibi: An Overflow of Passion and Sentiment in Room 30 have been extended until June.

While the National Gallery has taken the decision to indefinitely postpone its upcoming autumn exhibition Impressionist Decorations: The Birth of Modern Decor, due to open in September, this July brings a new exhibition reuniting five Bernardo Bellotto paintings depicting views of the fortress of Königstein for the first time in 250 years.

Nottingham Contemporary

A painting of black and white lips
Allison Katz, 'Ssik' Courtesy of the artist and Gió Marconi Milan

Welcoming three solo exhibitions, Nottingham Contemporary will be the first to host institutional solo presentations in the UK for Allison Katz, Mélanie Matranga and Erika Verzutti, with new works from each artist.

Katz is a London-based Canadian artist whose paintings, ceramics and posters featured in the new exhibition Artery are filled with gaping mouths and noses alongside contrasting wordy allusions and puns. Her use of recurring images of roosters, cabbages and monkeys seek to explore painting’s relationship with expression, voice and identity through humour.

Matranga’s exhibition 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, which includes a gallery-wide installation and a selection of sculptures, investigates what happens when the private becomes public. Her most ambitious moving-image piece, entitled People, is a 25-minute black and white film playing with isolation and togetherness with a diaristic quality.

Brazilian artist Erika Verzutti unites more than 40 existing works, from a body of new material to sculptures from the past 15 years and a site-specific commission. With allusions to the natural world and strong references to art history, she experiments with materials including bronze, concrete and papier mâché.

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