London’s Top Free Olympic Exhibitions

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The Olympic Games aren’t just about victory at the finish line – creativity and design have played a part in making the ultimate sporting event in the world happen. Make sure you celebrate the artists and engineers involved as well as the athletes by visiting one of these top Olympic exhibitions this summer. They’re all free.

Design Stories and After the Party at RIBA
The Royal Institute of British Architects is putting on two Olympic exhibitions to toast the architecture behind the Games. Design Stories: The Architecture Behind 2012 explores the ideas and complex engineering behind the brand new Olympic venues like the Aquatics Centre. It compiles drawings, images, videos and detailed models. The second exhibition, After the Party: The Legacy of Celebration, compares the UK’s Olympic buildings to efforts for previous Olympic Games and celebrations and asks what happens to monuments celebrating events after all the hoopla has passed. 
Design Stories: 25 Jun-21 Sep
After The Party: 25 Jun-5 Oct

Road to 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery
None of the glory on the track and court would be possible without all the work behind the scenes of the Olympic Games. This free series of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery features not only the athletes but people who have put the event together, such as apprentices from the Olympic Park and the team that led the bid for London to hold the Games. It’s the final part of  the BT Road to 2012 project which has commissioned leading photographers to document the build up to the event. Katherine Green’s images of sports communities in London’s East End sit alongside the display. 
19 Jul-23 Sep

The Olympic Journey at the Royal Opera House
For two weeks only, an impressive collection of Olympic artefacts will set up camp at the Royal Opera House for The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games. The exhibition traces the evolution of the Olympic Games from the ancient Greek games 3,000 years ago. The highlight has to be seeing every single summer Olympic medal since 1896 and every summer Olympic torch since 1936. 
28 Jul-12 Aug

London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Posters at Tate Britain
The posters for the Olympic Games have always reflected the art – and the mood – of the city that hosts them. Artists like Tracey Emin and Chris Ofili are among the 12 to put their mark on the official posters for London 2012. Screen prints and lithographs of their creations will be among those on show at Tate Britain as part of the London 2012 Festival.
21 Jun-23 Sep

Olympics Through the Ages at Westfield Stratford City
Award-winning photography will showcase iconic sporting moments at this exhibition in the Getty Images Gallery. Taking place within walking distance from the Olympic Park, it looks at the Olympic Games through a camera lens – from the first modern event in Athens in 1896 through to Beijing in 2008. 
27 Jun-30 Sep

What will be the most iconic image from the London 2012 Olympic Games? Comment below and let us know.


  1. Zoe Craig says:

    And here’s another for your list, should anyone be wandering along the Southbank and want to check out an exhibition:

    Sculpture and Sport: a celebration for 2012
    31 July – 12 August, 11am-6pm daily, FREE ADMISSION
    gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street,
    South Bank, London SE1 9PH

  2. Zecks says:

    If you are already tired of 2012, there is a 2016 olympics exhibition at the Brazilian embassy next to trafalgar square.