Our current exhibitions
Artist Rooms: Diane Arbus
2 December 2023 – 25 February 2024
A rare opportunity to see the work of Diane Arbus (1923-1971), one of the most original and influential photographers of the 20th century. Presented in partnership with Tate and National Galleries of Scotland, the exhibition draws from the remarkable collection of Arbus’s work in ARTIST ROOMS, featuring some of her most iconic black and white portraits. North Herts is the final and most southerly venue in this nationwide tour, which travelled to Barnsley, Dumfries and Shetland.
Born in New York in 1923, Diane Arbus is considered one of the great figures of American photography, pioneering a bold new photographic approach which bridged the gap between documentary photography and fine art. She began photographing in the 1940s, and her first published images appeared in Esquire magazine in 1960. Over the next ten years Arbus produced an extraordinary body of work in which she documented the lives, appearances and emotions of people, celebrating the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Through her commitment ‘to photograph everybody’, she was drawn to marginalised people and communities, and the sub-cultures of post-war American society. Arbus built up relationships of trust and respect with her subjects to produce powerful portraits of astonishing intimacy. Captured in her singular vision, her images of couples, children, circus performers, drag artists, middle-class families and celebrities reveal a gap between how people want to be perceived, and how they actually appear.
A highlight of the exhibition is the rare limited-edition portfolio printed in her lifetime: A box of ten photographs 1969-71. Arbus gave considerable thought to what this portfolio should be and how it should look, selecting a set of ten images comprising some of her most iconic portraits, including: Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1966 and A Jewish giant at home with his parents in the Bronx, N.Y. 1970. For Arbus, the ten images represented who she was as an artist and how she saw her work in the world, a legacy that became more solidified with her tragic death by suicide in 1971.
ARTIST ROOMS is a national collection of modern and contemporary art jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Its programme reaches audiences across the UK and is developed through local partnerships.
Richard ‘Dick’ Walker, Hitchin’s Angling Legend
13 February – 7 April 2023
Richard Walker (1918-1985) was born and raised in Hitchin and was honoured with a Blue Plaque on the house where he was born, now 32 Fishponds Road. His grandfather introduced the four-year-old Richard to angling, a specific type of fishing using a fishhook and rod, and he refined his craft at Bearton Pond.
Throughout his life, Walker pioneered many new approaches and invented new technologies to allow people to catch larger fish, and inspired many young people to take up and continue their angling journey. He was dubbed ‘the most influential angler’ by the Canal and River Trust and avid fisherman Chris Tarrant met him once as a little boy, saying recently that Richard ‘completely changed the face of freshwater fishing.’
This exhibition, in The Arches, brings together material loaned from Richard’s family and other kind contributors including photos, many of his books, and magazine articles, either written about him or by him.
Camden Town to Garden City: work by Gilman, Gore and Ratcliffe
9 March – 30 June 2024
A major exhibition of paintings and drawings by three artists who worked in Letchworth in the years before the First World War, with loans from museums across the country including Tate, the Government Art Collection and the National Museum of Wales.
Hitchin’s Toy Story
‘Raffo Pape and Woodward’ with their team of inventive designers have been quietly creating and developing product concepts for the children’s toy industry from their design studio in Hitchin. For over forty years, their designs have been manufactured and sold through major companies like Fisher Price, Tomy, Playskool and Matchbox. Projects include work on brands such as Action Man, Play Doh, ELC and Thomas the Tank Engine.
This family-friendly exhibition will feature a colourful display of original artworks, videos, production toy samples and prototype models from their portfolio to date.
October – December 2024
An exhibition of framed cels from the popular 1982 film, with early versions of the book and a facsimile of the original. Snowman activities and dressing up for the little ones.
Find out about past exhibitions here.