Blockbuster exhibitions in 2021

With spreading the new virus in the very beginning of 2020, then closing public cultural spaces…museum analytics foreshadowed the end of the era of large-scale exhibitions that contribute to the gathering of a huge number of people in one (closed) place.

With the uncertainty, museums were not sure about the longevity of blockbuster exhibitions anymore.

Blockbuster exhibition is an exhibition that captures the imagination and interest of a broad sector of the public, that somehow manages to be very relevant. Blockbuster exhibition is a grand spectacle.

Nevertheless, already by the end of the 2020 year, the world could see the return of the grand exhibitions, as example, ‘Me, Andy Warhol’, the biggest collection (more than 200 units) of Warhol’s work is exhibited no in Moscow from Sept 25, 2020, till Jan 10, 2021.

From the website

Another example is the ‘Kandinsky’ exhibition at Guggenheim Bilbao from Nov 20, 2020 till May 23, 2021.

From the website

What grand exhibitions are expected in 2021? We will tell you now!


Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 12 Feb – 30 May, 2021

The Rijksmuseum will take on 250 years of colonial history spanning four continents for its forthcoming Slavery exhibition, which considers the slave-trading networks both across the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. It will be organised around the life stories of ten individuals, including enslaved people, slave owners and those who resisted the system. The audio guide will feature oral histories, songs and speakers with a “personal link” to those figures, helping to immerse visitors in the “emotional, human experience” of slavery, according to Valika Smeulders, the Rijksmuseum’s head of history and a specialist in the presentation of slavery in museums. The curators also consulted a diverse panel of external scholars and community leaders because “we are not working on the exhibition from an ivory tower”, Smeulders says. The 140 exhibits will bring together leg cuffs used to shackle enslaved people and tools from the plantations, with luxurious objects associated with those in power, such as Rembrandt’s portraits of a sugar scion and his wife and a Dutch West India Company golden box presented to William IV. 

Epic Iran

Victoria and Albert Museum, London,13 Feb – 30 Aug, 2020

Epic by name and epic by nature, this exhibition will cover an ambitious 5,000 years of Iranian history through 350 objects. A saga in itself, the show has had to contend with funding complications courtesy of the Sackler scandal (over the family’s involvement in the opioid crisis); increasingly tense US-Iran relations; and the coronavirus pandemic scuppering its original opening date last year. Split into ten sections, the exhibition will have an “immersive design” that apparently sets it in a city, complete with a gatehouse, gardens, a palace and a library. Starting in 3200BC, the show will explore the ancient Persian Empire; Sassanid rule and Zoroastrianism; the ensuing emergence and establishment of Islam; and the royal Qajar dynasty. The final section will include Modern and contemporary works by some of Iran’s leading artists including Parviz Tanavoli, Monir Farmanfarmaian and Shirin Neshat. Literature is an overarching theme of the show, with a section devoted to poetry and its use in manuscripts and another dedicated to Ferdowsi’s 11th-century epic poem Shahnameh (book of kings). The display of these rare illustrated manuscripts—on loan from the Oxfordshire- based Sarikhani Collection and the British Library, among others—is sure to be a highlight. The exhibition will also include recently restored plaster casts of life-sized warrior friezes that adorned the Palace of Darius two millennia ago.

Exploring 5,000 years of art, design and culture, Epic Iran will shine a light on one of the greatest historic civilizations, its journey into the 21st century and its monumental artistic achievements, which remain unknown to many.

Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective

Gropius Bau, Berlin, 19 March- 1 Aug, 2021; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2 Nov, 2021 – 23 Apr, 2022

Eight of Yayoi Kusama’s most important exhibitions, which took place between 1952 and 1983, will be recreated for a retrospective of the Japanese artist’s work in Berlin this spring. The restaging of the shows will illustrate how the artist’s use of space developed and how she harnessed a multitude of mediums in her career, which now spans 70 years. As well as a brand-new Infinity Mirror Room, specially made for the occasion, the show will also look back at lesser-known early works. Among these will be an oil painting on paper, Accumulation of Corpses (Prisoner Surrounded by the Curtain of Depersonalization) (1950), and a collage of fake dollar bills, Untitled (around 1962-63)—reminiscent of the work of her friend Andy Warhol—as well as documentation of nude public performances, such as the naked anti-war happening on Brooklyn Bridge in 1968. The exhibition, which will be the first German retrospective of the artist, will also travel to Tel Aviv in the autumn. Meanwhile, a year-long display of two Infinity Mirror Rooms will finally open at Tate Modern in London after being postponed last year due to the pandemic (29 March- 27 March 2022). 

Yayoi Kusama is one of the world’s most important contemporary artists. In March 2021, the Gropius Bau will devote the first comprehensive retrospective in Germany to Kusama’s work. Presented across almost 3000 m², the exhibition will offer an overview of the key periods in her oeuvre, which spans more than 70 years, and feature a number of current works as well as a newly realised Infinity Mirror Room.

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