Museums

A new exhibition gives us the real Tolkien – not his awful legacy

7 July 2018 9:00 am

To no one’s surprise, the Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth exhibition at the Bodleian in Oxford, where J.R.R. spent so much…

‘The Battle of the Pyramids’, 1798–9, by François-Louis-Joseph Watteau

The best and most extensive exhibition on Napoleon in three decades

16 June 2018 9:00 am

The Musée de l’Armée at Les Invalides in Paris has a new exhibition that I believe to be the best…

Panel from the bedroom of Louis Henri I, Prince de Condé, by Christophe Huet

The greatest French museum you've never heard of

19 May 2018 9:00 am

Imagine a French museum that’s second only to the Louvre when it comes to paintings, with an eye-watering collection of…

Cultural regeneration is a racket

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Twenty years ago I wrote of the otherwise slaveringly praised Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao: I’m in a minority of, apparently,…

War horse: horse headdress made of felt, leather and wood, late 4th–early 3rd century BC

Pot-smoking warriors who attached enemy bodyparts to their horses: Scythians reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

You wouldn’t want to stumble upon the Scythians. Armed with battle-axes, bows and daggers, and covered in fearsome tattoos, the…

Hope, the blue whale, replaces Dippy, the diplodocus, in the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall

The newly refurbished Natural History Museum is glorious

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Sometimes, it pays to rediscover what’s already under your nose. I’ve been umpteen times to the Natural History Museum but…

Hilary Mantel explains the difference between facts and truths

17 June 2017 9:00 am

‘History is not the past,’ says the writer Hilary Mantel in the first of her Reith Lectures on Radio 4…

Left: ‘Étude pour la tête d’Hamadryade’, 1895-1908; right: ‘La Valse’, 1889-1895

The sexual ecstasy of Camille Claudel – and why it proved too much for the establishment

8 April 2017 9:00 am

Camille Claudel’s extravagant talent proved too provocative for the male art establishment of her day, says Laura Gascoigne

Rodin’s ‘Gates of Hell’: more than 300 figures, including a panther-like Eve

Why Auguste Rodin preferred to sculpt women who couldn’t sit still

18 February 2017 9:00 am

The girl who posed for Auguste Rodin’s figure of Eve on the ‘Gates of Hell’ was, the sculptor said, a…

The Elephant House at London Zoo, designed in 1964 by Casson Conder Partnership

Want to understand your animal side? Head to the Wellcome Collection

19 November 2016 9:00 am

We’ll do anything to forget we are animals. Charles Foster hails a forthcoming exhibition that makes us face up to reality

Muslim magic – Islam has always dabbled in the occult

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Islam has always dabbled in the dark arts, says Justin Marozzi

Hardy perennial: a crowd in the V&A Cast Courts

The best – and worst – places for a V&A assignation

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Thomas Hardy, while still married to his first wife Emma, but arranging assignations in London with Florence, his second-wife-to-be, used…

We, too, are America: children and members of the San Francisco chapter of the National Council of Negro Women at a voter registration motorcade, 1956

How helpful is it for America to have a museum dedicated to African American culture?

24 September 2016 9:00 am

‘A fool’s errand’. That is how Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and…

Form, function and confusion: the Design Museum in 1989

How the Design Museum lost its way, by co-founder Stephen Bayley

13 August 2016 9:00 am

London’s Design Museum is on the move. But it lost its way long ago, says co-founder Stephen Bayley

Buried treasure: an archaeologist diver brushes clear a bovid jaw discovered in Aboukir Bay

The treasures of Alexandria revealed: British Museum’s Sunken cities reviewed

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It was not so unusual for someone to turn into a god in Egypt. It happened to the Emperor Hadrian’s…

‘Undressed’ is too much boob, not enough woman: ‘Tamila’ lingerie set from the Agent Provocateur Soirée collection

Too much boob – not enough woman: Undressed at the V&A reviewed

16 April 2016 9:00 am

The V&A is selling £35 Agent Provocateur pants. This is, of course, a business deal because Agent Provocateur — along…

Detail of mosaic depicting the martyrdom of Saints Castus and Cassius, 12th century, at the Cathedral of Monreale, Sicily

Norman Sicily was a multicultural paradise – but it didn’t last long

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There are lessons to be learned from the disintegration of this once majestic multicultural Norman kingdom, says Martin Gayford

‘Macbeth, Banquo and Witches on the Heath’, 1794, by Henry Fuseli

Why do some museums insist on playing piped music into exhibitions?

9 April 2016 9:00 am

There was a genteel brouhaha last year — leaders in the Times, letters to the Telegraph, tutting in the galleries…

Wooden model of a brewing and baking workshop, Egypt, c.2000 bc, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Ancient Egypt’s obsession with death was in fact a preoccupation with life

2 April 2016 9:00 am

The Fitzwilliam Museum is marking its bicentenary with an exhibition that takes its title from Agatha Christie: Death on the…

Tug of war over the world’s heritage

12 March 2016 9:00 am

Isis’s blowing up of the Roman theatre at Palmyra should concentrate our minds: our world heritage is vulnerable. Not that…

Export queen: Sirikit wears Thai silk in Paris, 1960

A silky, air-conditioned introduction to Bangkok

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Last time I went to Thailand, there’d been something of a misunderstanding about accommodation, and my friend and I ended…

Britain is absent from the V&A’s new Europe galleries. Are they trying to tell us something?

9 January 2016 9:00 am

Before cheap flights, trains were the economical way to discover Europe and its foibles. Personally, I enjoyed the old fuss…

Detail from Gundestrup cauldron, 100 BC–AD 1

The British Museum's Celtic masterpieces aren't Celtic - but they are fabulous

26 September 2015 8:00 am

‘Celtic’ is a word heavily charged with meanings. It refers, among other phenomena, to a football club, a group of…

Look homeward, angel: Glasgow Necropolis

The graveyard where old Glasgow lives on

1 August 2015 9:00 am

A wet walk in a Glaswegian graveyard might not be your idea of fun, but then you might not have…

Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum is very good news - for the Met

23 May 2015 9:00 am

About six years ago the first section of the now celebrated High Line was opened in New York and made…