London’s future, fighting disease and so much more: the capital’s free exhibitions


The UK capital is nothing if not eclectic in what it offers visitors in terms of attractions and sites worthy of their time, a great example of which are many of the fascinating exhibits enabling the public to step into different worlds. Here are the best of those exhibitions going on right now, all of which are free – yes, entirely free…

design museum

Cartier in Motion

(Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street W8 6AG/ until 28th July)

Famed for its exquisite timepieces, this legendary, utterly iconic French brand – and, of course, its beautiful creations – are celebrated at this most dazzling of exhibitions at the (itself) fascinating and oh-so stylish Design Museum, located in the heart of salubrious Kensington. Featuring more than 170 of Cartier’s watches from throughout its history, in addition to a unique insight into the company’s research and design work down through the decades – drawn from materials from the Cartier archives – this is an attraction not to be missed for lovers of luxury brands and their perfection-seeking products.

Respected and Protected: The Rights of Children Exhibition

(Central Family Court, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, WC1V 6NP/ until 31st August)

An intriguing and, frankly, one-off gathering together of artefacts, images and published quotes that gives an insightful introduction into the work that’s been tirelessly carried out at this venue – for many decades – to protect the rights and lives of children in the UK. Children’s experiences are tactfully covered in addition to the slow yet historical evolution of their rights and the enforcing of them. Thought-provoking, to say the least.

british library

Gay UK: Law, Love and Liberty

(British Library, 96 Euston Road NW1 2DB/ until 19th September)

Commemorating the fact that homosexuality was (in part) decriminalised 50 years ago this year, this powerful exhibit at Euston’s mind-expanding British Library casts an eye back through many decades to explore not just the legal reform, but also cultural expression and personal testimony. It includes historic posters, campaign materials and journals, shedding a light on the likes of Oscar Wilde’s notorious trial back in 1895 and taking a look at the posthumous pardoning of individuals for historical gay ‘offences’ (the late, great Alan Turing, among others), which took place just this year.

My Point Forward – Blast Theory

(Museum of London, 150 London Wall EC2Y 5HN/ until 24th September)

An intriguing propositions this one – an exhibition that aims to offer an informed forecast of UK capital’s future. Drawing from extensive real-life recordings and florid visuals, artist collective Blast Theory’s interactive installation may put forward a hypothetical notion of what London may become, but it’s one that’s born out of admirable meditation and considered contemplation. Should you be staying in the vicinity (for instance, at one of the many hotels near Moorgate, like The Montcalm at The Brewery London City), be sure to pop along for a thoughtful step into the future.

Open for Discovery

(Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road NW1 1AT/ until 28th October)

A venue dedicated to the very specific but essential field of study that’s biomedical research, the Francis Crick Institute is a place that’s focused on producing ground-breaking work, housing around 1,500 scientists committed to their quest to pushing back the boundaries of science and its world-shaping discoveries. This exhibit offers a rare chance to check out what clever chaps like this are actually up to, dedicating itself to the future of human health (specifically the treatment of tuberculosis, influenza and cancer) – but don’t worry; in a totally accessible way.