Still from Neneh Cherry, Kong, 2018 © Jenn Nkiru

Somerset House Spring/Summer 2019 Announced


This summer, Somerset House celebrates the rich contribution of different cultures to Britain. With two new exhibitions and the much loved Somerset House Summer Series with American Express and Film4 Summer Screen, the programme invites visitors to explore issues of identity, representation and perception in our society. 

Highlights include:

  • Major new exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now celebrates 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond, featuring around 100 groundbreakers across art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion, and new works commissioned by Somerset House
  • Photography and moving image works combine in Kaleidoscope to explore identity and immigration in modern Britain, celebrating the everyday life and experience of immigrant communities


GET UP, STAND UP NOW: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers

Wednesday 12 June – Sunday 15 September 2019

West Wing Galleries

£12.50/£9.50 concessions

This summer, Somerset House celebrates 50 years of Black creativity in Britain and beyond, in a major new exhibition spanning art, film, photography, music, literature, design and fashion. Beginning with the radical Black film maker Horace Ové and his dynamic circle of Windrush generation creative peers and extending to today’s brilliant young Black talent globally, a group of around 100 interdisciplinary artists will showcase work together for the first time, exploring Black experience and influence, from the post-war era to the present day.  In this multi-sensory experience, historic works and new commissions will sit alongside items from personal archives, much of which has never been seen by the public before, tracing more than half a century of collective history. 

Curator Zak Ové – whose father Horace was the creator of the first feature film by a Black British director – has invited each artist to exhibit for becoming a true groundbreaker of their generation and their genre.

Numerous works will be created especially for the exhibition, championing the wealth of Black creative talent working today.  Highlights confirmed so far include an original soundtrack by Trinidadian DJ, producer and member of Major Lazer, Jillionaire, which will be streamed throughout the exhibition space.  Participating Somerset House Studios residents, including artist Larry Achiampong, musician Gaika and film maker Jenn Nkiru (who worked on Jay Z’s and Beyoncé’s APESH*T), have also been commissioned to produce new pieces for the show.

KALEIDOSCOPE: Immigration and modern Britain

Wednesday 12 June – Sunday 8 September 2019

Part of the Charles Russell Speechlys Terrace Room Series

Terrace Rooms, South Wing


At a time when Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world is increasingly complex and uncertain, Somerset House presents Kaleidoscope, a new photography exhibition that explores identity and immigration in modern Britain. Featuring stills and moving image, Kaleidoscope showcases the works of ten photographers born or based in Britain, many with family origins abroad including Hong Kong, India, Jamaica and Russia, and explores what it means and how it feels to live as an immigrant, or a descendent of immigrants, in Britain today. Co-curated by writer, Ekow Eshun and Creative Director, Darrell Vydelingum the exhibition forms a celebration of immigration in everyday life.

Reflecting the multiplicity of voices that together form modern Britain, the exhibition takes individual and often intensely personal experiences to encourage a wider appreciation of the nation’s multiculturalism. Each artist interrogates the charged issue of immigration from different perspectives, often informed by their own experiences or of their families, offering a composite insight into immigrant journeys, from the struggles of those seeking asylum to those of successive generations and their communities who have made the UK their home.



Saturday 6 – Sunday 14 April 2019

New Wing

£8 / £6.50 concession

£25 Weekend pass

Free outdoor installations

Annual games festival Now Play This returns to Somerset House this April for its biggest edition ever, with even more exciting hands-on gameplay for all ages to enjoy.  Part of the city-wide London Games Festival, Now Play This brings the latest in experimental game design from around the world, across an extended nine-day season.

From solo games to multiplayer collaborative experiences, Now Play This shows how games can be used as a medium to explore unexpected subjects unflinchingly, from looking for love to living with a disability. With works from a host of multidisciplinary artists and creators, many of which premiere for the first time at the festival, players have the chance to try anything from classic gaming titles to cutting-edge digital platforms. Visitors can also try their hand at game-making with interactive, participatory installations, as well live zine-making. Two free outdoor installations complete the festival, open to all Somerset House visitors, including a large-scale labyrinth in the neoclassical courtyard and an adventurous trail around the site.


Thursday 18 April – Monday 6 May 2019

East & West Wings

Tickets on sale early March

A selection of the world’s best contemporary photography from the past year will return to Somerset House in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition. From landscape to portraiture, wildlife to fine art, this major exhibition celebrates photography in all its diversity, and showcases incredible talent from across the globe.  All artworks are selected from the winning and shortlisted entries of the Sony World Photography Awards, one of the world’s most acclaimed international photography competitions. Highlights include works by the Awards’ Photographer of the Year and a special curation of rarely seen images and film by the Awards’ 2019 Outstanding Contribution to Photography recipient (announced March 2019). Find out more at 

EARTH DAY 2019: REDUCE SPEED NOW! by Justin Brice Guariglia

Tuesday 16 – Sunday 28 April 2019

Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court


To mark Earth Day 2019, American artist and environmental activist Justin Brice Guariglia presents REDUCE SPEED NOW!, a new project commissioned by Somerset House bringing together international perspectives on the world’s ecological crisis. Using a series of large solar-powered LED signs usually seen on motorways, Guariglia shares works which consider the global climate crisis from poets, writers and philosophers from around the world and explores how people can navigate the complex issues surrounding the subject through different modes of language. Forming a striking installation in the neoclassical courtyard, the signs display aphorisms, poetry and excerpts from literature from these international voices, engaging in ideas of sustainability. As part of this forum, visitors to Somerset House are invited to contribute to the artwork and the wider ecological discussion by submitting their own writing for display over the course of the installation.


Thursday 16 – Sunday 19 May 2019

Tickets on sale Friday 1 February

Photo London was created to give London an international photography event befitting the city’s status as a global cultural capital. Now in its fifth edition, Photo London has established itself as a world-class photography Fair and as a catalyst for London’s dynamic photography community. From the capital’s major museums, to auction houses, galleries large and small, right into the burgeoning creative communities in the East End and South London, Photo London harnesses the city’s outstanding creative talent and brings together the world’s leading photographers, curators, exhibitors, dealers and the public to celebrate the art of photography.

Photo London will also present the Discovery section for the most exciting emerging galleries and artists with an original Public Programme bringing together special exhibitions, installations and a Talks Programme curated by William A. Ewing, renowned curator and writer.


Thursday 11 – Sunday 21 July 2019

Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court

Line-up announced on 12 March and tickets on sale from 15 March

Somerset House Summer Series with American Express returns to the capital this year promising an unforgettable experience with its eleven nights of gigs. In the heat of summer, the magnificent Somerset House courtyard is transformed into the ultimate open-air destination, bringing a vibrant festival atmosphere right to the heart of London. With a programme of pioneering musicians across a wide range of genres, the series offers music fans the rare chance to see critically acclaimed artists in this beautifully intimate setting for a live music experience unlike any other. Produced in partnership with Metropolis Music.


Thursday 11 –Sunday 28 July 2019

Embankment East


The World Illustration Awards Exhibition returns to Somerset House this summer, showcasing the best work of emerging and established illustrators globally.  The exhibition features an extraordinary range of professional practice – such as Advertising, Children's Books, Design and Research – and reveals the many media employed by illustrators today, including digital, handcrafted, murals, sculptural and animation.  An independent jury of 24 industry insiders select 200 projects from just over 3600 submissions from 70 different countries, highlighting the multi-faceted cultural importance of contemporary illustration.

Delivered by Somerset House resident The Association of Illustrators in partnership with the USA-based Directory of Illustration.

Print Club London and Help Refugees: CHOOSE LOVE exhibition  

East Wing Galleries

26 July – 1 August 2019

Mon, Tues, Sat & Sun: 10am – 6pm

Wed, Thurs, Fri: 11am – 8pm

London’s acclaimed screen-printing studio and gallery Print Club London have been working with a selection of their favourite artists to produce a collection of limited edition  and original artworks in collaboration with Help Refugees that will be exhibited at Somerset House from 26 July – 1 August.  All profits from the sales of these artworks will directly support the work of Help Refugees – a group working to improve the lives of refugees and one of the biggest facilitators of grassroots aid on the continent, with over 80 projects across Europe and the Middle East. Now in its second year, the collaboration has seen artists such as Sir Anish Kapoor, Alexa Coe, Stanley Donwood and Noel Fielding make their mark on the iconic ‘CHOOSE LOVE’ slogan originally created by Katherine Hamnett in the 1980’s.


Thursday 8 – Wednesday 21 August 2019

Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court

First line-up announced in March. Full line-up announcement and tickets on sale in May

In August, Somerset House’s iconic courtyard transforms into London's most beautiful open-air cinema to host the ultimate cinematic experience. Over fourteen summer evenings, thousands of filmlovers share in the laughs, suspense, emotion and excitement, under the starry sky.  London’s largest outdoor screen and full cinema-quality surround sound ensure that audiences fully experience every look and every line of every film.  Film4 Summer Screen also offers the chance to get closer to the people that create cinema.  The 2018 season saw appearances from the stars of Hollywood, including Glenn Close introducing her now Oscar-nominated performance in The Wife, Michael Caine revealing the secrets behind the enigmatic ending of Inception and Jodie Whittaker talking about the experiences that have led her to where she is today.  As ever, more exciting appearances are expected for 2019, with an extra special evening to celebrate Film4 Summer Screen’s 200th screening.


Launched in 2016, Somerset House Studios is a new experimental workspace connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. Currently housing over 80 artists and Makerversity (a community of over 250 emergent makers), the Studios form a platform for the development of new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies.


Monday 3 – Monday 10 June 2019

River Rooms & Lancaster Room

More information and tickets available in May

Somerset House Studios partners with Mutek, a Montréal-based festival dedicated to the promotion of electronic music and the digital arts, and the British Council to host ten female-identifying artists and electronic producers working across the arts in Canada, Argentina, Peru and the UK. Connecting different cultures and experiences, Amplify is a platform for dialogue on access, inclusion and gender equality between local and international industry professionals. Amplify took place for the first time during Mutek Montréal in 2018, followed by editions at Mutek in Buenos Aires and Mexico City.

Reconnecting in the UK at Somerset House Studios, ten artists will become Somerset House Studios residents for a week, culminating in a weekend of performances, discussion and DJ sets on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 June, introducing some of the America’s best talent to the UK for the first time.


From February 2019

View and listen here:  

From February onward, a series of new audio and visual works commissioned and produced by Somerset House Studios will be available to listen and view online. Associate artists The Feminist Internet present Recording Spaces, a four-part podcast exploring themes from the importance of queer spaces to the potential for a feminist Alexa. Ted Hunt and Maeve Brennan are among five Studio artists working with Kings College London academics to explore new perspectives on blockchain, climate change and remote sensing technologies, captured in a series of films and podcasts. And following their installation work for ASSEMBLY in 2018, SIREN collective release their Shape of Sound films featuring Iceboy Violet, Moonbow, MT Hall, MX World, Object Blue and rkss.



With its riverside location and views across the London skyline, the Somerset House Terrace Bar will open in March with new premium partner San Miguel. The revitalized bar takes inspiration from San Miguel’s origins, bringing a lively, warm and inviting Spanish atmosphere to the river terrace - the ultimate destination from sunrise to sunset. Throughout the summer visitors will be able to sample a range of special edition beers, brought to Somerset House for an exclusive UK residency from the San Miguel Tap Station. Each beer has its own individual character, from the floral hops of the Hong Kong brew to the caramel and coffee notes in Munich. A delicious menu of small plates, inspired by San Miguel’s Iberian connections, has been specially crafted to perfectly complement the drinks selection.

San Miguel will also be the official beer partner throughout the summer season including the Somerset House Summer Series with American Express and Film4 Summer Screen where guests will be able to enjoy the brand’s wide range of beers including 0,0%, Gluten Free and the luxurious Selecta.



Address:  Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA

Transport:  Underground: Temple, Embankment / Rail:  Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars


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Inspiring contemporary culture

One of the city’s most spectacular and well-loved spaces, Somerset House is a new kind of arts centre in the heart of London, designed for today’s audiences, artists and creatives – an inspirational community where contemporary culture is imagined, created and experienced.

From its 18th Century origins, Somerset House has played a central role in our society as a place where our culture and collective understanding of the world is shaped and defined. In 2000, it began its reinvention as a cultural powerhouse and home for arts and culture today, creating unique and stimulating experiences for the public, bringing them into direct contact with ideas from the greatest artists, makers and thinkers of our time. Our distinctive and dynamic year-round programme spans the contemporary arts in all its forms, from cutting-edge exhibitions and installations to annual festivals, seasonal events in the courtyard including Film4 Summer Screen, Summer Series and Skate, and an extensive learning and engagement programme.

As well as welcoming over 3million visitors annually, Somerset House houses the largest and most diverse creative communities in the country – from one-person start-ups to successful creative enterprises including British Fashion Council, Dance Umbrella, Improbable Theatre, Hofesh Schecter Company, and Dartmouth Films.

In 2016 we launched Somerset House Studios – a new experimental workspace connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. Currently housing over 80 artists and Makerversity (a community of over 250 emergent makers), the Studios are a platform for the development of new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies.