Home Exhibitions

The Cult of Beauty

  • Free
  • Exhibition
Photograph of 3 gallery visitors looking at an installation. At the centre is multi-levelled podium covered in ornate coloured tiles. Resting on the defaces and suspended above are organically shaped glass vessels containing coloured liquid and natural substances. The wall behind in covered in renaissance images. The whole scene is dark but warmly lit.
Beauty Sensorium, 2023, Renaissance Goo x Baum & Leahy. Gallery Photo: Benjamin Gilbert. Source: Commissioned by Wellcome Collection. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0).

The Cult of Beauty is at its quietest on weekdays and weekend mornings. At busy times, particularly on Saturdays, you may need to queue. If the queue extends beyond the queueing area, we will give you a timed ticket which gives you free entry later that day.

Our major new exhibition explores notions of beauty across time and cultures.

Around the world, beauty is constantly seen as an ideal worthy of going to great lengths to achieve. But what are the driving forces that lead us to believe in a myth of universal beauty, despite its evolving nature?

Featuring over 200 items, including historical objects, artworks, films and new commissions, the exhibition considers the influence of morality, status, health, age, race and gender on the evolution of ideas about beauty. We invite you to question established norms and reflect on more inclusive definitions of beauty.

This riveting show traces humanity’s obsession with beauty through time and cultures with a keen sense of the ludicrous and the shocking ★★★★★

The Observer