Bringing some Latin heat to the capital - Tropicalia opens at the Barbican on February 16 2006 (see below for more details). © Barbican.
2005 was another excellent year for exhibitions with some real blockbusters in the capital and beyond. Frida Kahlo at Tate Modern, Degas, Sickert and Lautrec at Tate Britain, British Art Show 6 at Baltic were just some of the shows that had the public streaming through the hallowed halls of the nation's art galleries and museums.
So how is 2006 shaping up? How will our museums and galleries top 2005? Read on to find out where the biggest shows are going to be and what will have us flocking to museums and galleries during 2006.
The first new show of 2006 opens at the Scottish National Galleries on January 1. JMW Turner, Durham. © National Gallery of Scotland.
The first new show to open anywhere in the UK in 2006 is the traditional annual display of Turner Watercolours at the National Gallery of Scotland. This quietly impressive show opens on January 1 and – Hogmanay hangover permitting – is a fine way for art lovers to see in the New Year.
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan, the works span Turner's long career, from his early topographical wash drawings to the atmospheric sketches of Continental Europe from the 1830s and '40s. This entrée to a packed year for the National Galleries of Scotland runs until January 31 2006.
2006 is also shaping up to be another busy year for Tate Modern. The gallery is undergoing a complete re-hang in the 48 galleries of its permanent collection. Due to be unveiled in May 2006, approximately 40 per cent of the works will be ones never before seen.
These exciting and major changes have not, however, derailed the gallery’s exhibition programme, which is typically full and varied.
Last year it was Josef Beuys, this year Tate Modern are kicking off with a major exploration of another German, Martin Kippenberger, on February 8.
The work of Martin Kippenberger will be showing at Tate Modern from February 8 until May 7 2006. Martin in the Corner, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself 1989. © Martin Kippenberger.
Regarded as one of the most influential artists of his time, Kippenberger had his heyday during the 1980s when he grappled with post modernism, the purported death of painting and ideas of self … amongst other things.
Expect a rigorous examination of this fascinating artist, including 40 paintings, four large installations, ten sculptures and numerous works on paper.
As a kind of entrée to the big show on Modernism at the V&A (more of which later) Tate Modern will also be hosting an examination of two pioneers of the movement with Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World, which runs at the gallery from March 9 to June 4 2006.
A customary crowd-pleaser begins on June 9 with an examination of the first half of the career of Wassily Kandinsky. The exhibition focuses on the period between 1902 and 1922, when the artist was beginning to really get into abstraction. Many of his best-known paintings will be present and set against the turbulent backdrop of the First World War and the Russian Revolution.
If it were possible to top the shows of 2005 over at the other Tate at Millbank, Tate Britain is upping the ante with a programme of exhibitions for 2006 that have an unabashed British theme.
Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination opens at Tate Britain on February 15 until May 1 2006. Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare 1781. © Detroit Institute of the Arts.
Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination opens on February 15 and features more than 120 works by these two artists and their contemporaries. Fuseli’s infamous The Nightmare will be the centrepiece in what promises to be an entertaining romp through 18th and early 19th century Gothic.
For those of us who have ever wondered why Constable’s The Haywain has appeared on millions of chocolate boxes, tea trays, placemats etc, Tate Britain’s summer crowd puller is Constable: The Great Landscapes.
Opening on June 1 it’s a rare outing for his greatest works on canvas – a series known affectionately by the man himself as the ‘six footers’. Included are masterpieces such as The Haywain, The White Horse and Hadleigh Castle. I just wonder what kind of products the Tate shop will stock. Placemats and jigsaws anyone?
As a kind of cool counterpoint to these two shows the Tate Triennial of Contemporary Art opens on March 1, while the autumn season ushers in a comprehensive overview of Hans Holbein in England, which opens on September 28.
The English theme is continued at Tate’s South West outpost - Tate St Ives with another high-quality selection of JMW Turner’s work.
Turner will be at Tate St Ives from January 28 until May 7 2006. Joseph Mallord William Turner, Plymouth c.1825. Courtesy Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon. Photo Margarida Ramalho.
Turner toured Cornwall and Devon in 1811 and Turner in the South West: Light into Colour will feature his oil paintings, oil sketches, watercolours, pencil sketches and notebooks from this pivotal period in the artist’s development.
The show, which also includes the paintings of one-time St Ives artist - American Ellsworth Kelly - and the glasswork of Keiko Mukaide opens on January 28 and runs until May 7 2006.
At the National Gallery February 22 sees the opening of a potential hit with Americans in Paris: 1860 – 1900. This showcase will feature the work of some popular and well-know painters including Whistler, Singer-Sargent and Cassat - together with some lesser-known artists.
The gallery’s main summer show opens on June 28 and is Rebels and Martyrs: The Artist In The Nineteenth Century. Expect an entertaining exploration of that perennially favourite theme: the artist as outsider. Major works have been promised by some of most important artists of the 19th century including Delacroix, Van Gogh, Gaugin and Degas.
With Cézanne in Britain opening at the gallery on October 4 and a major Velasquez retrospective opening on October 18 it’s going to be another busy year at the National.
Compton Verney and National Galleries of Scotland share a fine Van Gogh exhibition in 2006.
At Scotland’s National Gallery the year’s big hitter looks like being Van Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collections, which opens on July 7. The exhibition is a collaborative venture with Compton Verney Art Museum (where it opens on March 31) and focuses on British collectors' interest in the artist with around 40 paintings and drawings featured.
Collaborative shows seem to be all the rage in 2006 with Passion for Paint, a collaborative effort between Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, Laing Art Gallery, and the National Gallery London, beginning its national tour in Bristol on January 21.
Included will be works by Rubens, Constable and Monet. After finishing in Bristol on April 2 2006 it moves on to Newcastle upon Tyne - April 13 until July 9 - before coming to rest at the National Gallery in London on July 20 until September 17 2006.
Bringing us back to the present with a bump, fibreglass will once again be hailed as the 'new bronze' in Scotland from August 5 as Ron Mueck brings his massive and striking sculptures to the Royal Scottish Academy. It's his first sizeable show since his infamous National Gallery residency in 2001.
Speaking of massive, staff at the Victoria and Albert Museum will be tackling a massive subject with their spring into summer offering - Modernism: Designing a New World.
Modernism in all its glory will be explored at the V&A in April. Villa Savoye, Poissy, Le Corbusier, 1928. © FLC/DACS.
This far-reaching show, opening in April and running through to July, will feature paintings, architecture, furniture, photography and film, graphic design, dress and costume and sculpture.
Work by a vast list of designers, artists and architects will feature all the usual modernist suspects – from Mondrian and Leger to Le Corbusier and Albers. The curators have even rescued the earliest surviving fitted kitchen from a housing estate in Germany to be imported into the V&A for the show.
The rest of the year sees something of a renaissance at the museum with Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment and Design opening on September 14. Expect lots of original manuscripts and drawings while large-scale models (including a tank, a cross bow and a flying machine) will show the diversity of this Renaissance genius in art, science and technology.
However it’s the British Museum that sets the Renaissance bandwagon rolling with their full-on retrospective of the work of Michelangelo in March.
Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master opens on March 23 and traces 60 years of Michelangelo's stormy life, from intimate studies made when he was in his early 20s, to the visionary Crucifixion scenes carried out shortly before his death.
They're big , they're bad and everybody loves them. Dinosaurs make a welcome return to the Natural History Museum in 2006. © NHM.
But then the Renaissance wasn’t all about super clever inventions and a better handle on perspective - as you'll discover when the V&A begins its exploration of the Ikea-like explosion in soft furnishings and interior décor during the period.
The Renaissance at Home opens in October and shows how the many paintings, sculptures and decorative art objects we associate with the Italian Renaissance were originally intended for the domestic interior.
If all of this modernism and Renaissance is not your thing, then just around the corner from the V&A there’s something that kids of all ages tend to enjoy - dinosaurs. The Natural History Museum’s blockbuster exhibition for 2006 sees a return to spectacular Jurassic Park style animatronics with Dino Jaws - a family exhibition on the fascinating (and sometimes downright disgusting) subject of what dinosaurs ate and how we know.
Over at the National Portrait Gallery they will be celebrating their 150th anniversary with a raft of exhibitions in 2006, with a distinct tilt towards the performing arts.
Photographic exhibitions about the Royal Ballet and the Royal Court open on January 14 and January 25 respectively, but the gallery’s major show is Searching for Shakespeare, which opens on March 2.
Did the bard really look like this? Find out in Searching for Shakespeare at the NPG from March 2 until May 29. William Shakespeare?, known as the Chandos Portrait, Attributed to John Taylor, c. 1600-10. © National Portrait Gallery, London.
In 1856 the first portrait presented to the newly formed NPG was the Chandos Portrait of Shakespeare. Alongside this famous representation, five other ‘contender’ portraits purporting to represent Shakespeare will be displayed together for the first time.
The exhibition will present the results of new technical analysis and research casting new light on the search for Shakespeare's authentic appearance.
Perhaps he wasn’t the baldy-beardy-bard we’ve come to know and love after all?
There will be an explosion of colour and sound in central London when the Barbican hosts the massive exhibition cum festival, Tropicalia: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture from February 13.
Tropicalia was a multi-faceted counter cultural artistic movement that embraced all the arts – so it’s fitting that Europe’s largest multi-arts centre should host it. It should at least bring a bit of warmth to the frozen London streets in February.
Speaking of multi-faceted, Liverpool is a city still in the throes of building up a head of steam for its City of Culture status in 2008, and in 2006 it continues to get its artistic chops in shape with Liverpool Biennial: International 06.
Witness opens at IWM North on February 4 and features some of the best WWI war art in the world. Over the Top, John Nash. © IWM.
The art-fest will see the return of New Contemporaries and Independents 06 as well as the John Moores 24 painting prize, which this year sees Tracey Emin, Sir Pete Blake, Jason Brooks and curator Ann Bukantas on the jury.
There will be similar multi-gallery shenanigans in Manchester when, fresh from its stint on the Tyne at Baltic, British Art Show 6 runs from January 28 until April 2. The show will take in several venues across the city including Cornerhouse, Manchester Art Gallery, Chinese Arts Centre, , International 3, Urbis and the .
Also in Manchester a different kind of art exhibition opens at Imperial War Museum North on February 4 to mark the 90th anniversary of the battle of the Somme. Witness reveals how the First World War shaped lives through the eyes of its artistic witnesses and features some of the best art from Imperial War Museum’s internationally acclaimed First World War collections.
Work by some of the most important British artists of the 20th century will be displayed alongside powerful first hand accounts of life at the front and at home.
In 2006 it will be 1700 years ago since this chap was proclaimed Roman Emperor in York. An exhibtion all about Emperor Constantine opens at the Yorkshire Museum on March 31. © Yorkshire Museum
2006 is a big year in Yorkshire because it will be 1700 years since the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine, was proclaimed in York while campaigning against the Picts.
To celebrate this quite remarkable fact, Constantine The Great – York’s Roman Emperor opens at the Yorkshire Museum on March 31 with an impressive haul of Roman treasures.
Included will be priceless pieces from across Europe including a marbled head of the emperor, the Hinton St Mary Mosaic, various hoards, statues, coins, mirrors, textiles, weapons, and wall paintings.
A quite different hoard of goodies will be on display just down the road in Leeds from February 22, when the contents of Sigmund Freud's desk goes on public display. Freud was an avid collector of antiquities and amassed a collection of thousands of pieces, keeping a small, but changing, selection on his desk.
The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds will be exhibiting many of the great man's collected objects and for the first time visitors will be able to view the objects from the same perspective as Freud. Time then to get your own back and have a stab at interpreting his subconscious leanings and desires?
So there you have it — more shows than you could possibly see in one year and, of course, there are hundreds more just waiting in the wings!
2006 will doubtless yield the usual crop of surprises, blockbusters and fascinating events and exhibitions so make sure you check the 24 Hour Museum to find out what's hot in museums, galleries and heritage in the new year.