Sainsbury Centre programming

The Sainsbury Centre programme responds to fundamental societal challenges, answered by living art. We are a museum that recognises art as living entities. Our programming takes place throughout an open plan arts landscape over three floors of our Norman Foster-designed building and out across our sculpture park set within 350 acres of parkland. We curate six-month seasons that ask a single question of broad interest, spanning exhibitions, collection displays, residencies, and the Sculpture Park. 

We work innovatively to engage with artists, organisations, thinkers and creators internationally and across all disciplines. We would like to hear from you if your work addresses any of the questions outlined below. If you are interested in contributing to our programme in any way, please contact Tania Moore, the Joyce and Michael Morris Chief Curator: 


Autumn 2023: How do we adapt in a transforming world?

Addressing the urgent issues of climate crisis and environmental pollution, this season aims to raise awareness and cultivate a greater sensitivity to our surrounding environment and its ecologies. A broad selection of works by contemporary international artists will be shown, prompting our audiences to imagine speculative futures in which collective human behaviour can mitigate the effects of climate change. 


Spring 2024: What is truth?

How do we understand what is true? What does truth mean to different people? How do we know our true self? Exploring all facets of truth, this season will have a particular focus on image and representation. It will look at how truth has been constructed in key moments in history; how our own identities are shaped by cultural influences; and the notion of post-truth, artificial intelligence, and deep fakes.  


Autumn 2024: Why do we take drugs?

This season explores why we take intoxicants – including for spiritual, medicinal, and recreational use – and why and how they are accepted in some cultures and not others. Art and material culture capture the depth and cultural dynamism of this complex human relationship in fascinating ways. Drugs have been used throughout history and, today, most people use drugs of some sort. This season explores how they are integrated into, or alienated from, society. 


Spring 2025: How do we resuscitate a dying sea? 

Exploring humanity’s relationship to the sea, this season looks at how we live alongside the sea in coastal communities, how we have a bodily relationship to the sea, or how the sea has been used in constructing a global society. It responds to the urgent need to resuscitate our seas, which are essential for all life, but are vulnerable to acidification and loss of biodiversity.


Autumn 2025: Why do humans still kill each other? 

This season explores the circumstances in which people are led to kill and notable moments from history that have seen murder. The season will also present the art and creativity that has arisen from times of unspeakable horror, focusing on cultural movements borne from the turmoil of world wars, revolutions, and civil unrest. This artistic dialogue across time and space put on display at the Sainsbury Centre can inform and inspire new ways of thinking about some of the most challenging aspects of the human condition.


Spring 2026: What is the meaning of life? 

Taking the age-old question of the meaning of life, this season asks how do we live a meaningful life? It will examine the structures that cause us to live by societal rules that see us following established roles or lifestyles. How do we challenge and critique these accepted norms of human behaviour to objectively understand if they provide people with the meaning people want in their lives. It will consider how we can break out of these patterns to live more meaningfully, by embracing more playful, counter-cultural or unexpected behaviours.