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Ten things to do in… January

Get out and about this month with our guide to the very best historical attractions.

Published: January 5, 2010 at 9:00 am
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1. Look in on India's past.


The latest exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery showcases a century and a half of photography in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Images from these three countries, which were all previously part of British India, reveal various aspects of life in the subcontinent since 1860. They are grouped into five themes that cover society, families, self-portraits, architecture, and key personalities and events.

Exhibition: Where Three Dreams Cross
Whitechapel Gallery, London
21 January–11 April
Tel: 020 7522 7888

2. Imprint Dürer on your mind

The great German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) was one of the first to make his name through the growing medium of prints. A selection of these are on display at the Hunterian in an exhibition that focuses on his reciprocated love affair with Italy.

Exhibition: Dürer and Italy, Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow
22 January–22 March
Tel: 0141 330 5431

3. Try a slice of Rugby heritage

According to tradition, the game of rugby began when William Webb Ellis picked up the ball during a football match at Rugby school in 1823. Rugby is now one of the world’s most popular sports, and you can still find out about its origins in the town where it was first played. The Webb Ellis Rugby Football Museum is sited opposite the famous school, in a building where the first rugby footballs were made in 1842. It has just been redeveloped and modernised, with improved displays and interpretation of its impressive collections of memorabilia.

Relaunch: Webb Ellis Rugby, Football Museum, Warwickshire
Open now
Tel: 01788 533217

4. Enjoy a Rembrandt masterpiece

“Next to having the Mona Lisa on loan, I cannot think of any better ‘must see’ attraction that we could possibly have in the National Museum.” So said Welsh first minister, Rhodri Morgan, about Rembrandt’s 1657 Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, which is the star attraction at an exhibition about the artist. Alongside this work are a selection of etchings by the Dutch master and other related pieces from the Netherlands.

Exhibition: Rembrandt in Focus, National Museum, Cardiff
Until 21 March
Tel: 029 2039 7951

5. Admire three artistic greats

The Fitzwilliam Museum owns several artworks produced by three of the most influential artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert and Stanley Spencer. Now, in a new exhibition, the museum is displaying a selection of their paintings, drawings and watercolours. These pieces illustrate the artistic similarities between the three and also the stylistic differences.

Exhibition: Hidden Depths: Sargent, Sickert, Spencer
The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Until 5 April
Tel: 01223 332900

6. Discover Native American warfare

The native tribes that inhabit the Great Plains of Canada and the USA, such as the Sioux, the Cheyenne and the Pawnee, are collectively known as Plains Indians. The martial aspect of their societies is examined by a new exhibition at the British Museum, which considers the past 200 years of Native American warrior ethic. It explores Plains Indian ideas of chivalry, honour, ritual and other aspects of warfare. These concepts are illustrated by weapons, costumes and art.

Exhibition: Warriors of the Plains, British Museum, London
7 January–5 April
Tel: 020 7323 8299

7. Read van Gogh’s self portrait

Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890) is one of the most celebrated artists in history. Despite his brilliance he received little recognition in his short life, which was blighted by mental illness and ended with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A new exhibition at the Royal Academy opens a window into van Gogh’s inner world by displaying a selection of his correspondence. These eloquent letters reveal the artist’s original thoughts about life and art. They are accompanied by paintings and drawings that reflect the themes brought out in van Gogh’s writings.

Exhibition: The Real Van Gogh: The Artist and His Letters
Royal Academy of Arts, London
23 January–18 April
Tel: 020 7300 8000

8. Revere a naval hero

Although Nelson stole the headlines, his friend Cuthbert Collingwood played a key role at Trafalgar. After Nelson was killed, Collingwood took charge of the fleet, securing a famous triumph. Trafalgar was only one highlight of a distinguished naval career for Collingwood, who is the subject of a new retrospective in Newcastle. He was born in the city and the exhibition pays close attention to his local connections.

Exhibition: Collingwood Discovery Museum, Newcastle
23 January–27 June
Tel: 0191 232 6789

9. Understand feminist history

“If you thought Women’s Lib was all about burning bras and wearing dungarees then think again,” says Isabelle Rucho of the Women’s Library about their latest exhibition on 1970s British feminism. Ms Understood presents a nuanced look at the Women’s Liberation Movement, detailing its key developments and examining its legacy. The exhibition, which has been produced in association with the Archive Awareness Campaign, features several original artefacts and documents and includes testimonies from those who were involved in Women’s Lib.

Exhibition: Ms Understood, The Women’s Library, London
Until 31 March
Tel: 020 7320 2222

10. Explore black Atlantic art

Through the slave trade and other migrations, black people have formed cultures in many different continents. The artistic legacy of these groups is explored in a new exhibition at Tate Liverpool that focuses on people living on both sides of the Atlantic. It considers the impact of black art on modernism and avant-garde, as well as examining more recent trends.


Exhibition: Afro Modern Tate Liverpool, Liverpool
29 January–25 April
Tel: 0151 702 7400


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