Special exhibitions

Each year we host major exhibitions at some of our most iconic buildings and outdoor spaces. Some celebrate the people who hold special connections to those places; some shed new light on their histories. Others explore different aspects of our collections, from paintings and sculpture to interior design and photography. Our Trust New Art exhibitions showcase contemporary artwork inspired by our places.

Here are some highlights of what’s on now and what's coming soon.

Opening in April and May

Boxes by Romilly Saumarez Smith for the Woman's Hour Craft Prize © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Woman's Hour Craft Prize at Mottisfont 

Discover bold, beautiful and brilliantly diverse works by the 12 finalists of the £10,000 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize. From a bespoke bicycle to willow sculpture, this exhibition provides an important snapshot of how contemporary British craft practice reflects on, and engages with, the world today.

Close up of Blickling's book collection

The Word Defiant! 

See something very different at Blickling Estate in Norfolk from May 2018. Blickling is home to our largest and possibly most significant library. In response to the conservation threats this collection faces, award-winning theatre company Les Enfants Terribles are creating an immersive art installation that will question your perceptions of historic spaces and collections. May-October 2018.

The library at Nostell

Chippendale: the Man and the Brand 

Visit this brand new exhibition to unravel the story of Thomas Chippendale and his special connection to Nostell. How did a humble cabinet maker from Otley become a world famous brand? Wednesday 2 May - Sunday 28 October.

The Duet ('Le corset bleu') by Gabriel Metsu

Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses 

Celebrating the enduring British taste for collecting Dutch paintings from the long 17th century, this first-ever exhibition of Golden Age Dutch pictures from the collections of the National Trust will be shown at the Holburne Museum in Bath, opening on 25 May 2018. It will then move to the Mauritshuis in The Hague in October 2018, and then to Petworth House in West Sussex in January 2019.

Current exhibitions

The Silver Caesars exhibition at Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust property in Buckinghamshire

The Silver Caesars: A Renaissance Mystery 

For the first time in more than 150 years some of the most extraordinary and enigmatic treasures of the Renaissance will be reunited and displayed together at Waddesdon Manor. These beautiful table ornaments celebrate the Twelve Caesars, notorious rulers of ancient Rome. Each standing cup (or tazza) includes a portrait of one of the Caesars, as well as four episodes from his life on the supporting dish.

Family view a portrait and Powis Castle, National Trust

House of Portraits at Powis  

This exhibition at Powis Castle in Welshpool will give visitors the chance to see one of the Trust’s recently acquired treasures. This Jacobean miniature, painted by Isaac Oliver (1565-1617), depicts Edward Herbert, 1st Baron Herbert of Cherbury, a philosopher, diplomat, musician, poet and all-round celebrity of his day, posing as a romantic knight.

A pencil sketch depicting two lovers sitting on a bench under a tree

Beyond Ophelia at Wightwick Manor 

Although she was a professional member of the Pre-Raphaelites, Lizzie Siddal is largely remembered today as the model in Sir John Everett Millais' 'Ophelia' (Tate Britain), or as the wife and muse of Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This exhibition, only the second to be devoted exclusively to her artwork, reinstates Siddal as an important and influential artist and poet in her own right.

Part of the exhibition at Killerton.

Branded: Fashion, Femininity and the Right to Vote at Killerton 

Safe under the newly repaired roof, the fashion collection is back at Killerton. Meet the radical women who made fashion political during the campaign for women's suffrage in this illuminating exhibition. See clothing and objects worn and used by suffragettes and suffragists, including Eleanor Acland’s spectacular hand-embroidered couture wedding dress, made by Nicaud of Paris.

From left to right; costumiers Harriet Waterhouse, Ninya Mikhaila, presenter Amber Butchart and costume assistant Hannah Marples

A Stitch in Time exhibition at Ham House 

The costumes created on the popular BBC Four programme a Stitch in Time come to Ham House this Spring. All six costumes will be on display and you can see the intricate work of costumier Ninya Mikhaila and her team up close.

The Garden Room at Basildon Park

Reimagining of India at Basildon Park 

The Garden room at Basildon Park has been transformed into a temporary exhibition space to reflect Basildon Park's association with India. Local community input and Lady Iliffe's original intentions for the room combine to create an immersive space that reflects Indian culture, past and present.

Self portrait of Oliver Messel

Portraits by Oliver Messel 

Oliver Messel was a world renowned designer, enjoying great success predominantly in the theatre. Nymans' new exhibition for 2018 examines his lesser known talent as a portrait painter, with a unique collection of portraits and archive material.

Night and Sleep be Evelyn De morgan

William and Evelyn De Morgan at Wightwick Manor 

In partnership with the De Morgan foundation, a new exhibition exploring the work of Evelyn and William De Morgan has opened at Wightwick Manor in Wolverhampton. Hosted in The Malthouse, a new purpose-built gallery space, the exhibition showcases some of Evelyn De Morgan's most iconic works including Night and Sleep, as well as a fantastic array of plates, vases and tile panels by William De Morgan.

Humphry Morice a painting by Pompeo Batoni

At Home with Art: Treasures from the Ford Collection at Basildon Park 

See nearly 70 objects from art historian Sir Brinsley Ford’s extraordinary collection, on loan from Augustine Ford. An avid collector from the age of eleven, Ford built on the art collection inherited from his father and grandfather. By the time of his death in 1999 he had amassed over 1500 works of art that included Old Master paintings, 20th-century British pictures, sculpture and decorative arts.

Visitor walking through 'The Golden Box'

Croome's collection returns with a twist 

Historical objects from the 6th Earl of Coventry’s collection have returned to Croome. Very important pieces that have been absent for over 70 years - including Lord Coventry's exquisite Meissen, Worcester and Sèvres porcelain - are presented in unique ways. Two artists exhibit new installations, The Golden Box and Chair Play, celebrating Croome's collection treasures and furniture.

Coming up in 2018
Judith Kerr looks at the 'Tiger Who Came to Tea' artwork

The Tiger Who Came to Tea exhibition on tour 

Get up close to the beloved artwork from Judith Kerr’s much-loved children’s classic picture book, 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea', at an exhibition touring various National Trust places from July 2018 until 2020.

The State Dressing Room at Nostell, West Yorkshire

Interior Worlds: Chippendale at Nostell 

Thomas Chippendale is one of the most significant and influential designers in English history and 2018 marks 300 years since his birth. Chippendale created a new world of interiors for Nostell, supplying the house with over 100 items of furniture, wallpaper and textiles and we're celebrating the anniversary with a host of exhibitions, events and activities. From 13 July – October.