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Barbican Art Gallery Reopening Programme

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography Installation View

Barbican Art Gallery has announced that it will reopen its doors to the public on Monday 13 July 2020, in line with government guidelines and with new safety measures in place.

The Barbican’s 2020 exhibition programme will begin again with the reopening of the acclaimed Masculinities: Liberation through Photography. This thoughtful and timely group exhibition explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed through photography and film from the 1960s to the present day. Having previously opened for just four weeks before the Barbican temporarily closed in March, the show’s run has been extended from 13 July until 23 August 2020.

The Art Gallery will be operating at reduced capacity, with timed entry slots to ensure a safe flow of visitors through the space, and tickets will need to be booked online at in advance of a visit.

This will be followed by A Countervailing Theory, the first-ever UK commission from Nigerian-American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, which will open for the first time in The Curve on Tuesday 11 August. An epic cycle of new work explores an imagined ancient myth conceived by the artist, unfurling across the 90-metre long gallery and featuring an immersive soundscape by sound artist Peter Adjaye. This free exhibition invites visitors to experience Ojih Odutola’s compelling mode of storytelling.

The Barbican is also today announcing an updated schedule for its forthcoming visual arts programme.

On 7 October, an unprecedented exhibition exploring the work and artistic collaborations of the choreographer, dancer and long-term Barbican Artistic Associate Michael Clark, will open in Barbican Art Gallery. 

Opening on 11 February 2021, the Art Gallery will present a major retrospective of French artist Jean Dubuffet, celebrating one of the most powerful and provocative voices in the postwar avant-garde.

Jane Alison, Head of Visual Arts, Barbican, said: ‘It’s so brilliant to have the opportunity to reopen our Masculinities: Liberation through Photography exhibition, which had met with such acclaim earlier in the year. Now is your chance! Opening in August, we also invite you to experience Toyin Ojih Odutola’s epic cycle of works. This stunning project was almost ready to open just as lockdown happened - and again, I couldn’t be more delighted that we are finally able to introduce Ojih Odutola’s work to a London audience as part of our free programme of Curve artist commissions. In the autumn, we are massively excited to be staging the first ever exhibition on the work of the legendary, cult dancer and choreographer, Michael Clark.

The Barbican is taking a phased approach to welcoming visitors back, with the Art Gallery and the Barbican Conservatory reopening on 13 July, followed by The Curve in August. As we begin to reopen, the safety of our audiences and staff remains our top priority. You will find detailed information on our website designed to help you feel confident about your visit. We know that not everyone will be able to attend in person and will continue to make thought-provoking digital content inspired by our programme freely available via our website. This includes forthcoming video tours of our Masculinities exhibition and Ojih Odutola’s A Countervailing Theory. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Barbican to experience some truly incredible art

Safety measures in place when the Barbican reopens will include social distancing, limited visitor capacity, one-way routes through the building, sanitisation points and regular cleaning. Access to all venues will be via the main entrance on Silk Street with lifts available for those who need them.

The Barbican’s restaurants, bars, cafes, main shop and cloakroom facilities will remain closed during this phase but there will be takeaway refreshments and a pop-up Art Gallery shop on the Conservatory Terrace on Level 4, as well as toilet facilities available. Detailed visitor information will be available on the Barbican’s website.

To support the Barbican in reopening and offering the widest possible audience access to culture and creativity, donations can be made here.