The Top 13 Exhibitions To See In April 2022

We look ahead to April's must-see shows in London, plus one cheeky addition from outside the M25.

1. Holding out for a hero: Superheroes, Orphans & Origins at The Foundling Museum

Original artwork from the exhibition. © DC. All Rights Reserved

Superman was adopted by human parents after being sent away by his parents, Spider-man was taken in by his uncle and aunt after his parents died, Batman witnessed his parents' murder as a child and Professor X was a surrogate father for pretty much all the X-Men. It makes perfect sense for The Foundling Museum to dedicate an exhibition to superheroes given so many were foundlings themselves. It also includes characters from Manga and both original artworks and contemporary art commissions exploring life growing up without parents.

Superheroes, Orphans & Origins: 125 years in comics  at The Foundling Museum. 1 April - 28 August, £9.50.

2. Water, water everywhere: Canaletto's Venice at National Maritime Museum

© From the Woburn Abbey Collection

Venice is one of the world's most beautiful cities, and nobody has captured it in quite so exquisite detail as painter Canaletto. This exhibition displays the complete set of his 24 Venetian paintings together. Alongside this slice of Venetian history, the museum is also looking at the current issues facing Venice as climate change leads to rising sea levels that threaten the island, and the increased frequency of cruise ships that risk causing further damage to this delicate and historically significant city.

Canaletto's Venice Revisited at National Maritime Museum. 1 April - 25 September, £10.

3. Magical kingdom: Inspiring Walt Disney at The Wallace Collection

A background painting for Cinderella. Copyright Disney.

Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are the Disney animation films taking centre stage at Wallace Collection in an exhibition that looks at how 'Uncle Walt' himself and the wider Disney team took inspiration from 18th century French art and furniture. See furniture, clocks, porcelain and silverware alongside drawings from the Disney archive to learn how animators drew inspiration from the real world. Read our full preview here.

Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts at The Wallace Collection. 6 April - 16 October, £14.

4. Bags of colour: Sheila Hicks at Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire

© Sheila Hicks. Courtesy of Alison Jacques, London Photo: Noam Preisman

Big, bold, colourful textile artworks is what American artist Sheila Hicks is best known for, and they are part of this major show that features 70 of her works. Displayed both inside and outside of the gallery, the show is all about how her creative practice has evolved, and how it cuts across the overlaps of art, design and architecture.

Sheila Hicks: Off Grid at Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire. 7 April - 25 September, £12.

5. Kick off: Designing the Beautiful Game at Design Museum

See what makes the 'beautiful game' so beautiful. Design Museum's major show is all about the various elements of design that make football the world's most watched sport, from the massive stadiums to the tiny details on team badges. Whether you're down the pub for every game or just want to know more about the sport, here's the hot ticket in town — and it's a lot cheaper than a season ticket.

Football: Designing the Beautiful Game at Design Museum. 8 April - 29 August, £16.80.

6. Eastern treasures: Japan - Courts and Culture at The Queen's Gallery

A pair of ornate pastille (perfume) burners. Courtesy Royal Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

There's a long history of gifts exchanged between royal families, so it's no surprise that the Queen has lots of treasures that have been given to our current and past monarchs from Imperial Japan's royal family. 300 years of diplomatic, artistic and cultural exchange have resulted in an exhibition that features porcelain, embroidered screens and samurai armour.

Japan: Courts and Culture at The Queen's Gallery. 8 April - 12 March 2023, £17.

7. Renaissance Man: Raphael at The National Gallery

Copyright The National Gallery.

Raphael ranks among the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance. He was a fantastic painter, but we can see how much more diverse he was, in an exhibition that covers drawing, architecture, archaeology, painting and tapestry — showcasing that much like Leonardo da Vinci, he was a true Renaissance man. Originally scheduled to coincide with the 500th anniversary of his death, the two-year delay to this exhibition has simply whetted appetites even more.

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Raphael at The National Gallery. 9 April - 31 July 2022, £24.

8. Vulnerable portraits: Andrew Salgado at Beers London

Copyright Andrew Salgado.

Portrait painter extraordinaire Andrew Salgado is back with his latest collection of paintings, in his trademark colourful style but a lot more introspective and 'quieter' than his previous works. The fantastical references still creep into his works but it's a more pared back set of paintings this time around.

Andrew Salgado: A Never Setting Sun at Beers London. 10 April - 14 May, free.  

9. Stunning snaps: Sony World Photography Organisation Awards at Somerset House

© Filip Hrebenda, one of the landscape winners.

From portraiture to landscape, architecture to wildlife and fine art to street photography, these awards are a fantastic sample of the world of contemporary photography, from reflective portraits to a raging volcano. Political, beautiful and thought-provoking, this annual exhibition is always a highlight.

Sony World Photo Organisation Awards 2022 Exhibition at Somerset House. 13 April - 2 May, £15.

10. Wallpaper mountains: David Wightman at Grove Square Galleries

Copyright David Wightman.

With his signature use of textured wallpaper to create vibrant mountain landscapes, David Wightman showcases his latest paintings. Using wallpaper as his medium provides remarkable depth to works which offer a contemporary twist on one of the oldest of genres, with nods to the Old Masters of landscape painting who came before him.

David Wightman: Ariel at Grove Square Galleries. Opens 14 April, free.

11. Miniature art: Small is Beautiful at Old Brompton Road

Copyright Slinkachu

Gaze in wonder at work at the very smallest of scales, in an exhibition that features 32 local and international artists with over 100 miniature artworks on display, plus a host of photographs of the impermanent ones created out in the world. Whether it be playing tennis on a piece of fruit or squaring up to a shoelace Loch Ness monster there's plenty to marvel at when artists create art in miniature.

Small is Beautiful: Miniature Art exhibition at 79-85 Old Brompton Road. Opens 15 April, £16.

12. Read all about it: Breaking the News at The British Library

The smashed hard drives used by The Guardian to store Edward Snowden's files. © Guardian News & Media Ltd 2021

Who becomes an overnight celebrity or a source of shame? How are we influenced by what's presented to us in the news? These highly topical and politically-charged questions are up for debate at The British Library's major exhibition on the news. With coverage of events going back to the Great Fire of London up to recent events such as unrest in Syria and Black Lives Matter, it's a look at how reportage has evolved and and how it continues to keep us gripped on the latest developments.

Breaking the News at The British Library. 22 April - 21 August, £16.

13. Immersive Art: Future Shock at 180 Strand

Daydream by Nonotak Studio. Copyright the studio.

180 Strand has become the go-to venue for immersive art experiences. This time it's pushing the boat out with a collection of works that use Artificial Intelligence, lasers, holographic projections and electronic music to make us feel at one with the artworks. Get ready to see, hear and feel some spellbinding art installations.

Future Shock at 180 Strand. 28 April - 28 August, £20-25.

Short run events

Experimental gaming galore. Copyright Now Play This.

If you're in the mood for gaming, Science Museum's Easter gamer heaven Power Up returns (2-19 April, ticketed) where there's five decades of gaming history in one place, from Mario Kart to Minecraft.

If indie gaming is more your speed, head to Somerset House where Now Play This (8-10 April, ticketed) where an international selection of experimental gaming awaits.

An artist's rendition of the arks of Gimokudan

Outside in the courtyard of Somerset House, The Arks of Gimokudan (5-26 April, free) is an installation by Leeroy New, consisting of three ships constructed from recycled material to mark Earth Day, and ask us to contemplate the wasteful age we live in.

London Art Fair (20-24 April, ticketed) is back after being deferred from January, displaying contemporary and modern British art. If you're after emerging artist, then Roy's Art Fair (7-10 April, free) has you covered, a fair we've bought several pieces from in the past. If ceramic art is the thing for you, that's all that's available at specialist fair Ceramic Art at Central Saint Martins (8-10 April, ticketed)

London Art Fair arrives a few months later than initially scheduled. Photo Mark Cocksedge.

Those more in the mood for roaming should join in for Mayfair Art Weekend's Spring West End gallery hop (6 April, free) where many galleries will be opening their doors late and into the evening so we can visit after work, or head to Wood Green for the Citizens Art Festival (7-10 April) a family-friendly event featuring local artists and workshops to get hands on with the creative process.