The contemporary art programme at Royal Museum Greenwich provides a powerful way to look afresh at our mission, collection and sites.
The programme allows us to engage with our 21st century audiences and stimulate curiosity in different ways, through acquisitions, interventions, commissions and residencies.
New commission: Richard Wright
Stand within the perfect cube of the Queen's House Great Hall and revel in Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Wright's intricate and unique design for its ceiling. For the first time since 1639, an artist has worked on the ceiling of the Great Hall of the Queen’s House, one of Britain’s most important historic interiors. Turner Prize winner Richard Wright has responded to the geometry and beauty of the Queen’s House with an intricate and unique design populating the nine formerly blank panels of the 12 x 12 metre ceiling.
With the acquisition of Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Fourth Plinth sculpture, ‘Nelson’s ship in a bottle’ in 2012, contemporary art acquisitions have been gathering momentum. Recent additions to the collection have included Wolfgang Tillmans RA’s ‘ESO’ triptych and Paul Duke’s series of photographs ‘At Sea: A Portrait of a Scottish Fishing Community’, both now on display in the Queen's House.
The Museum commissions British and international artists to respond to the Greenwich World Heritage Site and explore themes that illustrate the significance of the sea, ships, time and the stars.
Current contemporary arts programme
The current contemporary arts programme at Royal Museums Greenwich was launched in 2012 with a series of interventions that encouraged our visitors to think afresh about our collections and site.
As part of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Queen’s House, we commissioned a new artwork from Turner Prize-winning artist Richard Wright. Together with the new contemporary art on display, we look back to the origins of the House as the site of cutting-edge contemporary art and design.
Past contemporary art exhibitions
Unseen: The Lives of Looking exhibition by Dryden Goodwin
Dryden Goodwin used pencil sketched and filmed portraiture of three modern lives, an astronomer, an eye surgeon and a human rights lawyer, to bring a contemporary context to the history of our Museum sites as places for intense looking, from astronomy at the Royal Observatory to marine and war art at the Queen’s House.
War and Memory exhibition by Rozanne Hawksley
For the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, the ‘Rozanne Hawksley: War and Memory exhibition was a poignant and powerful interrogation of sacrifice at sea and remembrance. The focus of the display was a new commission, entitled 'Full Fathom Five'. Following the exhibition, we were pleased to acquire Hawksley’s Seamstress and the Sea as a gift from the artist.
Yinka Shonibare MBE at Greenwich
The Yinka Shonibare MBE at Greenwich exhibition interrogated our naval and stargazing past, notably suggesting alternative deaths for British hero Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson. This cross-site exhibition included a new commission, Cheeky Little Astronomer, which became the Diploma Work Shonibare presented to the Royal Academy upon his election as Royal Academician in 2014.
The Garden of England by Alice Kettle
Alice Kettle’s The Garden of England exhibition looked at 17th-century court culture in Greenwich, through the Museum’s collection of portraits and the architecture of the Queen’s House.