Private View held by Richard Andrews
Somerset House will be transformed into a major cultural centre during the course of this year. Formerly the home of civil servants processing birth, death, marriage and income tax records, the arts formed a bridgehead in 1990, when the Courtauld Gallery opened in one refurbished wing of the building. In May, thanks to Lottery funding for further restoration, the Gilbert Collection of decorative arts, with treasures which include European silver, gold snuff boxes and Italian mosaics, will be installed in new galleries. Simultaneously, the Great Court and River Terrace will be open to the public for the first time in a hundred years. In the autumn, Russia's Hermitage Museum will establish its first foreign satellite gallery, so that some of its hidden treasures can be seen (and income generated). Currently only five per cent of its collection of over three million objects is displayed in the former Winter Palace of the Tsars in St Petersburg.
Rene Magritte was the foremost exponent of the surrealist movement, and this exhibition contains 70 of his works, some of which are among the most memorable images of the 20th century. Clouds and bowler hats aplenty then - and the fact that he was Belgian somehow makes it even more surreal. The Dean Gallery, Edinburgh until 26th March.
Sixty Years Of Batman turns Bethnal Green into Gotham City (a big improvement however you look at it). Comprised of early artwork, models, costumes and memorabilia, it celebrates the entire history of the Caped Crusader and his cohorts Boy Wonder and Batgirl, not forgetting their collection of dastardly foes. Creator Bob Kane was apparently inspired by a Leonardo da Vinci drawing of a flying machine with bat wings. (Is there nothing Leonardo didn't think of first?) There is an accompanying programme of Saturday workshops for children. National Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green London until 27th February. 0181 980 2415.
The Story Of Time is combination of art and science, reflecting the ways in which people and cultures throughout history have expressed their understanding of time. Artefacts loaned by the world's museums, libraries and art galleries include works by Titian, Poussin and Dali, displayed alongside a Navajo sand painting, Chinese ancestor portraits, the earliest known dated watch, a 14th century Book of Hours, manuscripts from as early as the 10th century and a 20th century photograph taken by the Hubble telescope. Now Greenwich may enter the 21st century as the home of Greenwich Electronic Time, a new world standard time on the internet. The Queen's House, Greenwich (part of the Royal Observatory) until 24th September.
The British Airways London Eye missed its VIP launch on New Year's Eve, but as soon as it is fixed we can all "enjoy" a 30 minute slow-moving "flight" over the heart of the capital in the 135-metre high attraction, which will remain on the river for five years. Booking on 0870 5000 600. Jubilee Gardens, South Bank, London
The Apocalypse and the shape of things to come is an exhibition of images inspired by the end of the world as described in the Book of Revelation. Illuminated manuscripts, books, single sheet prints and drawings from the 11th century up to the end of the Second World War, focus on particular episodes or apocalyptic phases which have often occurred at the end of centuries, and have always been rooted in historical and political circumstances. It is accompanied by an Apocalyptical event programme of concerts, lectures and a symposium. British Museum until 24th April.
Mark Power: Dome The Official Millenium Dome photographer Mark Power brings his visual document of the project up to date, with a new show of previously unseen photos taken in the last year, at the Zelda Cheatie Gallery. Zelda Cheatie Gallery, London until 29th January.
Retrace Your Steps: Remember Tomorrow gives a new twist to an old museum. Often cited as the favourite "undiscovered" Victorian collection in London, Sir John Soane's Museum is staging an exhibition in which works by contemporary artists are placed strategically around the space. With so much crammed in already it's hard to imagine how this is possible, but go and hunt - many of the pieces have been created specially for this exhibition. Sir John Soane's Museum until 25th March.
Heaven: An Exhibition Which Will Break Your Heart brings together a group of international artists to reveal how religious and spiritual experience has changed this century. Celebrities and supermodels are now idolised and adored as once were saints and angels, a tropical beach resort has become most people's view of paradise, and we worship at the graves of the famous, at rock concerts and fashion shows. Jeff Koons' sickly sculpture of Michael Jackson, in a style usually associated with porcelain shepherdesses placed on tasteless mantelpieces, provides one of the show's modern icons. The Tate Gallery Liverpool until 27th February.
100 Years Of Cartoons features original cartoons and illustrations by Ronald Searle, H M Bateman and E M Shepard amongst others, including works from the Punch archive, aimed at the present buying season. Although your budget may not run to the £1,000 required for some, others are less than £100 (although still too much for me). The Rae-Smith Gallery, London until 15th January.
Renaissance Florence: The Art of the 1470s focuses on the work of a period of phenomenal creativity, and includes works by all the greatest artists working in the city at the time: Andrea del Verrocchio's "Ruskin Madonna" from Edinburgh, Sandro Botticelli's "Discovery of the Dead Holofernes" from the Uffizi and Filippino Lippi's recently discovered "Dead Christ Mourned" from the Musée Thomas Henry, Cherbourg. These accompany masterpieces from the Gallery's own collection: Verrocchio's "Tobias and the Angel", Antonio and Piero del Pollaiuolo's "Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian" and Botticelli's "Venus and Mars". National Gallery until 16th January.
Claustrophobia explores the idea of "Home Sweet Home", as sixteen artists from around the world use photography, sculpture, painting, video, and installations of household objects to question the way we see our most familiar environments. The show includes works by Rachel Whiteread and Mona Hatoum from the UK and other artists from Australia, Germany, Columbia and America. It spans the mundane to the ethereal. Centre For Visual Arts, Cardiff until 16th January.