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.

Exhibitions update

Due to our houses and buildings closing, our exhibitions and events have been cancelled until further notice. However, you can still enjoy highlights from some of our major exhibitions online.

18th century dolls' house at Nostell

Miniature Worlds at Nostell, West Yorkshire 

This new permanent exhibition showcases Nostell’s rare 18th-century dolls' house, recently conserved and redisplayed. You’ll also see the dolls' house come to life through a digital photogrammetry and hear expert historians discuss the world of 18th century design, craftsmanship and social history that this miniature mansion opens up for us.

Costumes at Smallhythe

'Much Ado About Something' at Smallhythe Place, Kent 

Ellen Terry was an A-list celebrity of the Victorian age. Costumes and memorabilia relating to one of her most acclaimed roles, in Shakespeare’s 'Much Ado About Nothing' in 1882, are on display together for the first time in the Costume Room at Smallhythe Place in Kent.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea exhibition banner

The Tiger Who Came To Tea at Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan 

Get up close to the beloved artwork from Judith Kerr’s much-loved children’s classic picture book, 'The Tiger Who Came To Tea'. This touring exhibition will be at Dyffryn until 3 May 2020.

A lifesize mannequin wears Henry VIII clothes created from paper, wearing rich red and gold robes, a black hat with a feather in it

Fashioned from Paper at Knole, Kent 

This spring, the doors to Knole’s showrooms will open to a visual feast. Fashioned from Paper sees paper artist Denise Watson (aka Delicarta), taking inspiration from Knole’s many portraits and bringing characters to life from 600 years of history with her exquisitely detailed paper costumes.

The Three Trees, 1643, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), detail

Skyscape at Petworth House, West Sussex 

This unique exhibition showcases nearly 40 objects from the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford and charts the popular art of aerial (rather than terrestrial) landscape, through a succession of masterpieces that span 500 years of European art.

The restored 'Petworth Beauties' on display at the British Baroque exhibition

British Baroque: Power and Illusion at Tate Britain, London 

A new exhibition at Tate Britain on the British baroque era features seven paintings from the National Trust’s collection, including two of the ‘Petworth Beauties’, which have been recently restored and returned to full-length portraits.

Illustration from Welcome to Planet Zog

Flights of Fancy: The Wondrous World of Quentin Blake at Nyman's, West Sussex 

Leap into a fantasy world with a new exhibition of the work of legendary illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake. Kindly on loan from Sir Quentin’s archive, the exhibition features illustrations from his self-penned stories, including the joyful antics of ‘The Story of the Dancing Frog’ and voyages of imagination in ‘The Green Ship’.

A cartoon illustration by Bill Stott

Comedy and Commentary at Mottisfont, Hampshire 

Discover witty works from some of Britain’s best cartoonists commenting on current affairs. Our exhibition showcases the distinguished history of contemporary British cartooning. Humour is at the heart of this show, with works from the likes of Matt of the Telegraph, Mike Williams of Private Eye, and Ronald Searle.

The Fury of Athamas sculpture by John Flaxman on display at Ickworth's new exhibition

A Home of Great Art at Ickworth, Suffolk 

This January, experience a theatrical transformation of Ickworth’s collection with a brand-new House exhibition created by design collective The Decorators, working with lighting designers Studio Dekka. Ickworth’s biggest ever roof conservation project to protect the grand Rotunda and all its treasures within has given us the opportunity to celebrate some of Ickworth’s finest collection items.

Tennis clothing through the ages

Active Minds and Busy Bodies at Killerton, Devon 

The concept of a ‘healthy country life’ and a love of sport grew, in part, from the activities that people first enjoyed on county house estates. This exhibition explores how clothing from these pastimes changed over time, adapting as perceptions of appropriateness and modesty changed and practicality became increasingly important.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle pictured in a Lakeland valley surrounded by other animals

Friendship by Post at the Beatrix Potter Gallery, Cumbria 

Get up close to original illustrations from your favourite tales and rarely seen objects in a new exhibition that explores why correspondence was so important to Beatrix Potter. Discover some of the key relationships that influenced Beatrix’s view of the world and see her letters filled with charming sketches.

Visitors explore HumanKind exhibition at National Trust Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

Humankind at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire 

This exciting exhibition sheds new light on the imposing Baroque Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and its ‘isolated’ family that was said to hide from the world. It explores the themes of loneliness and human kindness. Follow the lives of six Calke inhabitants over two centuries, through immersive audio-visual experiences, displays and outdoor installations.

Vogue cover image from October 1950 by Anthony Denney

Anthony Denney at Rainham Hall in London 

Celebrating an icon of British 20th-century design and fashion photography, Rainham Hall launches its summer exhibition programme about the life and career of one of its 1960s inhabitants, Anthony Denney. One of Condé Nast’s chief photographers, Denney was featured in British Vogue magazine (where he was Decoration Editor for nearly 20 years), and House and Garden magazine. Rainham Hall and its garden are interpreted in Denney's original designs and decor with personal objects on display. Opened 29 June.

Online exhibitions

Detail of Saint Agatha by Carlo Dolci (1616 – 1687), oil on canvas, c. 1665-70 / Osterley NT 2900293

Treasures of Osterley: Rise of a Banking Family 

Explore the rise to fame and fortune of the Child family of Osterley Park and discover the works of art they collected from around the globe, featuring stunning new photography and in-depth information by our curatorial experts. The centrepiece of the exhibition is the recently acquired painting of Saint Agatha by the 17th-century Italian artist Carlo Dolci.

Chippendale green dressing table with open drawer

Chippendale Revealed 

Our first-ever online exhibition features specially commissioned photography showing previously unseen and unique aspects of Thomas Chippendale's furniture and showcasing the expertise of our Furniture Research & Cataloguing team.