Our programme for 2020

July 10, 2019

I always look forward to this moment in the year, when we reveal the exciting exhibitions planned for our visitors. The V&A can feel simultaneously fast and slow. We have a large and dedicated team working on our programme for many years before a show comes to fruition. From research to testing, developing to securing exhibits – each day of planning and research unearths wonderful surprises and hidden gems, and today we are proud to be able to share this with all of you.

The last twelve months have been another mammoth undertaking for the V&A. We followed up the sell-out sensation of Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up with the blockbuster delights of Dior: Designer of Dreams. We continued our fascination with the fast-paced digital world, moving from The Future Starts Here to Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt. We put on exhibitions that were timely and experimental – our current show FOOD: Bigger than the Plate has proven to be thought-provoking and a critical success. We even brought the Swinging ’60s back to west London with Mary Quant, launching tickets with a double-decker bus roaring down the King’s Road, and opening to queues down the street of visitors young and old alike, keen to learn about this modern-day fashion icon.

With Tim Walker: Wonderful Things and Cars: Accelerating the Modern World still to come in 2019, I hope that you will find our 2020 programme just as inspirational and intriguing.

Person wearing black kimono
KIMONO Times, Akira Times, 2017 © Akira Times

From Parisian couture and 1960s Britain, we move to Japan’s most iconic garment – the Kimono. The exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will explore past and present, East and West, tradition and reinvention, in a show that reveals a fascinating story of global fashion exchange (and no, it won’t include Kim Kardashian’s latest business venture).

In the summer of next year, you will be invited to visit the wonderful world of Wonderland. This immersive, mind-bending journey down the rabbit hole will explore the global phenomenon of Alice across literature, art, film, music, performance and fashion in a digital extravaganza of multi-media display and rarely seen exhibits.

Royal Opera House image of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland
Zenaida Yanowsky as The Red Queen in Christopher Wheeldon’s ballet Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The Royal Ballet. Photography by Johan Persson /©ROH. Costumes by Bob Crowley

Opening in April, our fashion galleries will be transformed in ode to the ultimate accessory – Bags! From the iconic, to the elite, to the unexpected, this show will explore why the humble bag has become so coveted and revered. Renaissance Watercolours will open in May 2020, showing little-known works by very well known names. An exciting and unprecedented moment of watercolour creation, the show will unveil works by the greats of the Renaissance as they experimented with the watercolour medium; transforming it from an illustrative tool to an art form in its own right.

We finish the year with a look at the art, design and culture of one of the greatest and most fascinating empires the world has ever seen – Epic Iran. Exploring 5000 years of groundbreaking works, we will bring together rare and fragile pieces of architecture, ceramics, textiles, fashion and art to explore the rich history of a nation that is so often seen through a very different lens today.

We hope that you will join us on our global tour of discovery in 2020, visiting places both past and present, real and fantastical.

Detached folio from an illuminated manuscript of the Shahnameh for Shah Tahmasp, 1525-1535, Tabriz. The Sarikhani Collection, I.MS.4025
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