Step inside, think outside at Somerset House in 2024

13 Dec 2023

As the New Year swings into view, we’re delighted to share the news of a full year of extraordinary culture at Somerset House. We’re offering surprising perspectives on our world and shining a spotlight on un-told narratives, inviting audiences and artists alike to see the future in new and unexpected ways. It’s thrilling that so much of our programme is shaped by the incredible creative community based here and 2024 will be no exception to that.

We’ll be kicking off the year with the first major exhibition to explore the extraordinary and complex power of cuteness in contemporary culture. Opening on 25 January, CUTE examines the world’s embrace of cute culture and how it has become such a universal, multifaceted and surprising prism through which we view our times. Across our expansive Embankment Galleries, this exhibition brings together contemporary works from over 50 artists and contributors, including new commissions, and cultural ephemera across music, fashion and toys, video games and social media. Prepare yourself for cuteness overload!

We’re proud to be the home of cultural innovators, and this is exemplified by the community of incredible artists in Somerset House Studios. One such artists is LIBBY HEANEY, who in February will present HEARTBREAK AND MAGIC, a new virtual reality artwork and physical installation, drawing on the artist's own experience with personal grief and sudden loss. The artwork explores the non-binary and non-local qualities of quantum physics to offer alternative perspectives on how we think and feel about the self and existence. 

In March, we’ll also launch STUDIO 01, a new Somerset House Studios exhibition series presenting the work of three early career visual artists who have completed an 18-month residency in the Studios supported by Jerwood Arts. The exhibition features the artists' specific thematic approaches, part research and part inquiry, from sculpture to moving image to paintings and drawings. Contributing artists for the first iteration of Studio 01 are enorê, Leila Dear and Ufuoma Essi

Alongside the amazing work of our creative community in Somerset House Studios, 2024 is another year where we’re investing in the creatives of the future and expanding what it means to be the home of cultural innovators. Throughout the year, our creative skills programme UPGRADE YOURSELF returns with a series of festivals providing emerging creatives aged 18-30 the chance to connect with likeminded individuals through workshops, talks and networking with industry professionals. Equally, the BLACK BUSINESS RESIDENCY programme goes from strength to strength, with another cohort of Black business entrepreneurs taking their place on site to unlock their full potential and enable their creative enterprises to thrive.

As we move into Spring, our spectacular courtyard will be transformed into a bamboo garden by Hong Kong-based eco-queer artist ZHENG BO, in a project entitled BAMBOO AS METHOD. Using over 300 locally-sourced bamboo plants the garden creates a place for contemplation and serves as a reminder of the restorative qualities of nature within the urban landscape of Somerset House and central London. Zheng’s large-scale, participatory installation will be the newest addition to the annual Somerset House courtyard commission series, and in April we’re also pleased to see the return of our annual games festival, NOW PLAY THIS. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the festival offers engaging interaction and play for all ages to enjoy, fusing art and games under a new themed edition, LIMINAL: PLAYING BETWEEN WORLDS.


Zheng Bo

Also returning to the courtyard this summer - of course! – is SOMERSET HOUSE SUMMER SERIES WITH AMERICAN EXPRESS. Across eleven nights, this quintessential London summer experience will offer a trailblazing line-up of breakthrough music artists and established acts from across the globe.

In June, we’ll present THE LORE OF LOVERBOY, an exhibition celebrating 10 years of club to catwalk from international fashion powerhouse Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, one of Somerset House Studios’ original residents.  LOVERBOY has been lauded for radically ripping up the fashion rulebook, loved by the likes of Harry Styles and Tilda Swinton, and this maximalist show will provide an immersive insight into creative production and industry, from an artist who transcends disciplinary boundaries of art, design and music.

LOVERBOY club polaroids.jpg

The Lore of LOVERBOY

The full breadth of creativity in Somerset House Studios will be on display in October, as we present the 8th annual AGM - an unmissable late-night party taking over the Studios’ ground floor. This year’s edition of AGM will be a night of collaborative energy, art installations, and captivating live performances.

Also in October, a new exhibition will give audiences a rare chance to dive deep into the largest cultural and historical archive of Black LGBTQ+ people in Britain in brand new exhibition rukus! Queer Black Legacies. Curated by artist and filmmaker Topher Campbell, The exhibition explores Black Queer creativity, activism and community, spotlighting the work of UK Black Queer pioneers from the 1970’s until the present day. 

As ever, we’ll round off the year with SKATE at Somerset House, another glorious chance to enjoy the Somerset House in true festive style.

The year ahead reflects our spirit of constant curiosity and counter perspective, which is integral to our history and key to our future. As we move through 2024’s rich programme of contemporary arts, creative innovation and cultural opportunity, we’ll also be thinking about 2025 – a year which marks 25 years of culture at Somerset House. That promises to be another year of joy and discovery, where everyone is invited to Step Inside and Think Outside.