Hayward Gallery celebrates its 50th birthday

Sunday, July 8, 2018 - 13:18

Monday 9 July, marks a particularly golden milestone for art at Southbank Centre. It was on this date in 1968 that Her Majesty, The Queen officially opened Hayward Gallery, pushing open the doors to half a century of exhibitions from some of the world's most adventurous and innovative artists.

For 50 years Hayward Gallery has been a crucial visual arts and architectural landmark in London, celebrating the work of some of the world’s most influential artists, it has also produced many ground-breaking group exhibitions.
Ralph Rugoff, Director, Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery

Bridget Riley, Martin Creed, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jeremy Deller, Anish Kapoor, René Magritte, Francis Bacon, David Shrigley; the list of artists to have been exhibited within Hayward Gallery’s distinctive brutalist concrete walls is nothing short of heavyweight. And so to mark the 50th anniversary of this icon of the UK arts world we’ve got some pretty special celebratory events, projects and one-offs lined-up for the weeks ahead.


50p Day

On Wednesday 11 July, 50 years to the day from when Hayward Gallery first opened to the public, we allowed visitors to enjoy current exhibition, Lee Bul: Crashing, for a price of just 50p. And to enable as many of you as possible to take advantage of this amazing offer, we extended our opening hours for the day too, meaning the exhibition could be seen from 11am ‘til 9pm.


Opening up our archive

Working in partnership with the Google Cultural Institute, Hayward Gallery has digitised archival material from 50 landmark exhibitions that have taken place at the gallery over the past 50 years, making it widely available to the public for the first time ever. The digitised material includes exhibition proposals, printed ephemera and installation images, helping to tell the stories behind some of Hayward Gallery’s remarkable exhibitions, including Henri Matisse 1869-1954: A Retrospective Exhibition (1968); Dada and Surrealism Reviewed (1978); Outsiders: An Art Without Precedent or Tradition (1979); Addressing the Century: 100 Years of Art and Fashion (1998); and Sonic Boom: The Art of Sound (2000).

discover Hayward at 50

I am delighted to be able to mark 50 years of Hayward Gallery successes by making the gallery’s rich programme accessible to a wide range of people. This is a fabulous commemoration of a very important part of Southbank Centre’s story.
Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive, Southbank Centre

Conversations in the Archive: our history on film

To accompany and enrich the research into Hayward Gallery’s archive, our curatorial team commissioned filmmakers James Price and Kate Vogel to make five short films exploring five seminal exhibitions from the gallery’s history. These short films feature artists and curators who were involved in the exhibitions, with archival material as a prompt for reflection and reccollection starting with Sir Nicholas Serota and Anne d’Offay discussing The New Art, a landmark 1972 exhibition of British conceptual art.

watch the film


£50 Memberships

Also on Wednesday 11 July, we also offering people the chance to become Southbank Centre Members, and enjoy all the year-round benefits this brings, for just £50. Our Members enjoy an exclusive Members' cafe-bar, free entry to the Hayward Gallery and are always first in line for event tickets with priority booking. This special £50 membership was available to anyone purchasing online from 10am ‘til midnight on 11 July.

more about membership


Revisiting half a century of great art writing

Fifty Years of Great Art Writing is a collection of the most remarkable essays about modern and contemporary art, from some of the world’s leading writers, artists and thinkers. 


Fifty Years of Great Art Writing, front cover

Each of the texts were commissioned by Hayward Gallery and originally appeared in exhibition catalogues to provide interpretation and context for shows, here. Many of the essays remain as timely and relevant as the day they were written; others offer fascinating takes on the critical temper and issues of particular moments from the past. 

find out more

50% discount on Hayward Gallery Publishing

If one book on the great art of Hayward Gallery isn’t quite enough to immerse yourself in, you can take the opportunity to add to your book shelves, as our Southbank Centre shops offer a 50% discount on selected titles from the Hayward Gallery Publishing catalogue.


help support the next 50 years

Please give £5 or more to help Hayward Gallery present the very best contemporary art for the next 50 years.

Your support will help Hayward Gallery continue to present innovative, groundbreaking shows and exhibitions by the world’s most influential artists, and remain a place that is open and accessible to all. 

donate today