Exhibitions and events
What’s on at the British Museum in 2022?

“Next year we will explore some of our deepest history, from ancient Britain, the story of feminine power across the ages, through to the unlocking of ancient Egypt’s written history. These world-class shows will explore familiar stories anew, reaching into the past to bring to life the origins of where we come from. Our exhibitions programme allows us to collaborate with museums and communities from across the world, share skills and knowledge and learn more about the Museum’s collection. We look forward to welcoming you to the Museum soon.” – Hartwig Fischer, Director.

Get a taste of what’s on in 2022 below. Check back here for further updates, or sign up to our emails to be the first to know when tickets go on sale.

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Special exhibitions
Peru: a journey in time

11 November 2021 – 20 February 2022
The Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery, Room 35

A gold figure of a llama turned three-quarters to the viewer, against a white background.
A miniature gold figure of a llama, Inca, AD 1400–1532.

Immerse yourself in the fascinating story of Peru in this special exhibition, which takes you from the rugged Pacific coastline to the highest Andean peaks, covering thousands of years of history along the way.

Through a huge range of objects including pottery, textiles, metalwork and more – many on loan from Peru – this show highlights the history, beliefs and cultural achievements of the different peoples who lived here from around 2500 BC to the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s, and their legacy in the centuries that followed.

Supported by PROMPERÚ

Organised with the Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything

Until 30 January 2022
Room 90

A drawing showing the figure of Devadatta on the left side, holding a sword in his right hand, and left hand outstretched towards demons and evil spirits who occupy the background.
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), Devadatta surrounded by evil spirits, from Banmotsu ehon daizen zu (Illustrations for The Great Picture Book of Everything). Block-ready drawing, ink on paper, Japan, 1820s–40s. Purchase funded by the Theresia Gerda Buch Bequest, in memory of her parents Rudolph and Julie Buch, with support from Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfson Foundation).

Hokusai is one of Japan’s most famous artists, best known for his prints including the iconic The Great Wave. This exhibition shines a light on a group of 103 recently acquired drawings by the artist that were intended for an encyclopedia called The Great Picture Book of Everything. It was never published, escaping the woodblock printing process that would normally have destroyed hand-drawn works like these.

Together, they help reveal more about the artist’s working process and life in 19th-century Japan. Get up close to these amazing drawings – on display for the first time – and learn more about Hokusai’s famous prints and woodblock printing.

Sponsored by The Asahi Shimbun

The world of Stonehenge

17 February – 17 July 2022
The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery, Room 30

A disc depicting a map of the stars and sky, showing a crescent moon on the right against a dark green background.
Nebra Sky Disc, Germany, about 1600 BC. Photo courtesy of the State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-Anhalt, Juraj Lipták.

Shrouded in layers of speculation and folklore, Stonehenge is perhaps the world’s most awe-inspiring ancient stone circle, and its image is famous around the globe.

This major exhibition is the first of its kind in the UK. It will bring the story of Stonehenge into sharper focus, showing that rather than a shadowy age of mystery, the Britain and Ireland of four millennia ago were places of big ideas, commerce and travel.

You’ll journey back to the time of its construction around 3000–2500 BC, and with the help of objects from across Europe – including stone axes from the North Italian Alps and stunning metalwork from Ireland – the world of Stonehenge will be illuminated like never before.

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Supported by bp

Organised with the State Museum of Prehistory, Halle/Saale, Germany

The Citi exhibition

Feminine power: the divine to the demonic

19 May – 25 September 2022
The Joseph Hotung Great Court Gallery, Room 35

‘Lilith’, Kiki Smith, 1994. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, photo by Hyla Skopitz.

The first exhibition of its kind, Feminine power takes a cross-cultural look at the profound influence of female spiritual beings within global religion and faith.

Explore the significant role that goddesses, demons, witches, spirits and saints have played – and continue to play – in shaping our understanding of the world.

How do different traditions view femininity? How has female authority been perceived in ancient cultures? For insights, the exhibition looks to divine and demonic figures feared and revered for over 5,000 years. From wisdom, passion and desire, to war, justice and mercy, the diverse expression of female spiritual powers around the world prompts us to reflect on how we perceive femininity and gender identity today.

The show is enhanced by engagement with contemporary worshippers, faith communities and insights from high-profile collaborators Leyla Hussein, Mary Beard, Elizabeth Day, Rabia Siddique and Deborah Frances-White

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Supported by Citi

Decoding hieroglyphs (title TBC)

October 2022 – February 2023
The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery, Room 30

A close-up photographs of Egyptian hieroglyphs on a stone relief. Images include birds, animals, human faces and feathers.
Royal temple lintel of Amenemhat III (1854–1808 BC), limestone, Egypt, 12th Dynasty.

The decoding of hieroglyphs in the early 19th century was the key to unlocking ancient Egypt, opening up one of the longest chapters of human history which had previously been cloaked in mystery.

The decryption of hieroglyphs changed our understanding of history – allowing documents and architecture to speak again, and revealing how ancient Egyptians lived, worshipped, and viewed the world and their place within it.

This exhibition will look closely at just how hieroglyphs were deciphered, and the impact of this in later understandings of ancient Egypt.

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Free exhibitions and displays

The Asahi Shimbun Displays

Contemporary women artists of Japan: six stories

2 December 2021 – 13 February 2022
Room 3

Yamamoto Akane (b. 1977), Leaf Boat. Glass and platinum leaf, 2019. © Yamamoto Akane.

Through a selection of visually striking objects from the Museum’s Japanese collection, this display explores the personal experiences and expressive visions of six internationally acclaimed female artists from the 1960s to the 2010s. The objects include photobooks, prints, a painting and a glass sculpture.

While each of the artists’ stories is unique – as daughters, mothers, wives, single women, sisters and friends – their works share a quiet sense of self-possession, suggesting ways women navigate their paths through life in Japanese society.

Supported by The Asahi Shimbun

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum soon!

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Can’t get to London? The Museum has a number of touring exhibitions, loans and partnership galleries which you can see at our partner venues – find out what’s on in the UK and around the world.