Ten exhibitions and events to see in UK galleries and museums for the Tour de France

By Ben Miller | 05 July 2014

The diverse Yorkshire Festival brings a range of exhibitions and events to the county alongside the Tour de France’s visit, while there’s a bike-powered show in Manchester. Here are ten Tour specials

A photo of a man sitting on an ancient bike next to giant old engines on a track
© Dan Clarkson
Tour de France, National Railway Museum, York, until July 6

The National Railway Museum’s collection of velocipedes – a vehicle of two or more wheels, powered by their riders – extends to quirky “rail bikes”, used by inspectors and engineers to navigate the tracks.

Try riding one and watch demonstrations here, laid on by staff wearing yellow jerseys.

A photo of a man in a suit balancing on a bicycle on a cobbled residential street
© Casey Orr
Bicyclism, Leeds City Museum, Leeds, until July 6

Set to a soundtrack composed on bicycles, this community-developed exposition of the passions of the cyclists of Leeds illuminates the place of the two-wheeler in culture.

Stunt bikers, veteran cyclists and archive images provide some of the highlights.

A photo of a green bike balancing two boxes from its front and rear saddles
© Courtesy Civic Barnsley
Bike Show, The Civic, Barnsley, until July 12

A vintage bicycle used by three-times Tour winner Greg LeMond might be the highlight of a display exploring technological advancements, innovation and unusual bikes.

It also highlights the Yorkshire riders to have taken part in the spectacle, with other notable exhibits including works by some of the best contemporary designers and frames by Italian bike builder Dario Pegoretti.

A photo of cyclists riding past a mountain
© Courtesy Welcome to Yorkshire
Eyes on Le Tour, White Cloth Gallery, Leeds, until July 27

David Millar, Mark Cavendish, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome are among the cycling stars Graham Watson has photographed for the likes of Sports Illustrated, Men’s Health and GQ.

His enthusiasm shines in around 150 framed photos here, heading back to the Tours of the 1980s and accompanied by works from fellow photographer Bernard Thompson and a selection of films.

A photo of lots of yellow t-shirts with illustrated designs on them hanging above a room
© Courtesy Museums Sheffield
Yorkshire in Yellow, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, until September 7

Kid Acne and The Designers Republic are among the artists and designers responding to an open call for takes on the yellow jersey - the Maillor Jaune has been worn by the Tour leader since 1919 - from Museums Sheffield.

More than 60 t-shirts hang in the air, including numbers by Dutch design master Wim Crouwel and Margaret Calvert, who was the co-creator of the UK’s motorway signage.

A photo of a large amount of ornate porcelain featuring china cups and a plate
© Courtesy Harewood House
In Pursuit of the Exquisite: Royal Sèvres from Versailles to Harewood, Harewood House, Leeds, until November 2

These delicate and exquisite porcelain pieces, which were made by the Sèvres factory opened in 1740, survived the turmoil of the French Revolution to become some of the most desired wares in Europe.

They frequently tell amazing stories: regularly brought to England by members of the aristocracy, their collectors also included the Prince Regent, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.

A black and white photo of two cyclists racing on an outdoor track
© Courtesy MOSI
Pedal Power, Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, July 19 2014 –March 2015

Marking the 20th anniversary of the National Cycling Centre in Manchester, this show starts with Salford-made mid-18th century bikes and a Penny Farthing, made in Manchester in around 1885, and brings the story up to date through some of the zippers used at the Manchester Velodrome.

Look out for Jack Sibbit, who was an Olympic Silver Medallist almost a century ago, and Bury-born Reg Harris, who won two silver medals while recovering from two broken vertebrae, winning Sports Personality of the Year twice and the world professional sprint title four times.

A photo of a large outdoor sculpture on parkland
© Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Ursula von Rydingsvard, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, until January 4 2015

Born to Polish and Ukrainian parents before moving through displaced person camps during the 1940s and 1950s, US-based von Rydingsvard punctuates the West Bretton landscape in this gathering of 40 drawings and sculptures from the past two decades.

Her signature material is cedar beam, which she uses in building blocks for complex, tactile forms echoing the natural world.

A photo of various people standing around on a hill next to a tractor
© Yorkshire Festival
Fields of Vision, various venues

Threading the cyclists along the scene as if they were stitches within a quilt, this enormous-scale land-art project, set in the South Pennine uplands where the Grand Depart will pass on day two, has a theme of water and a patchwork of field-size living installations, including three sites which will become natural settings for live performances.

Artists, environmentalists, schoolchildren, young farmers and cyclists have sown, cut and weaved the vast works.

A photo of a large black sculpture of an owl
© Photo: Fredrik Nilsen, 2013
Thomas Houseago Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield

The Tour has already taken in Thomas Houseago’s gargantuan striding figure on the Headrow of the Sculpture Park, accompanied by his owl’s head, cast in bronze on a redwood plinth, within the grounds.

Leeds and Wakefield City Councils helped bring the Los Angeles-based sculptor, who grew up in Leeds and has taken Darth Vader and Jacob Epstein as inspirations, back to the area.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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