Past Exhibition

Ai Weiwei: Making Sense

This major exhibition, developed in collaboration with Ai Weiwei himself, is the first to present his work as a commentary on design and what it reveals about our changing values. The show mixes recent works with commissioned pieces, inviting us into a meditation on value and humanity, art and activism.

'The master provocateur creates timeless beauty from historical objects'
★★★★ The Independent 

'No one does it quite like Ai Weiwei' 
★★★★ The Times 

'Powerful, political and provocative art installations by Ai Weiwei at the Design Museum, challenging us to question the world we live in'
★★★★★ Culture Whisper

'Profoundly moving'
The Telegraph

What to expect

Ai Weiwei is one of the most significant and recognised artists working today. Known around the world for his powerful art and activism, Ai does not differentiate between disciplines: his practice glides across art, architecture, design, film, collecting and curating.

This major exhibition, developed in collaboration with the artist, is the first to present his work as a commentary on design and what it reveals about our changing values. Through his engagement with material culture, Ai explores the tension between past and present, hand and machine, precious and worthless, construction and destruction.

The exhibition draws on Ai's fascination with historical Chinese artefacts, placing their traditional craftsmanship in dialogue with the more recent history of demolition and urban development in China. The result is a meditation on value – on histories and skills that have been ignored or erased.

Discover some of the artist’s most important works displayed alongside collections of objects that have never been seen and new commissions made for the exhibition.


Exhibition photography by Ed Reeve

Exhibition photography by Ed Reeve

Exhibition photography by Ed Reeve

Exhibition photography by Ed Reeve

Exhibition photography by Ed Reeve

Exhibition photography by Ed Reeve

Marble Takeout Box, 2015 . © Image courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio

Glass Helmet, 2022. © Image courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio

© Image courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio

Booking Information

Adult tickets from £18.00
Children aged 11 to 15 from £9.45
Under 11s go free
Concession/Student tickets from £13.70

Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Visit our terms & conditions page for further information.

Exhibition ended.


5 Unmissable Highlights from #MakingSense

From the artist's largest ever Lego artwork to a Marble Takeout Box, find out the unmissable highlights from the brand new #MakingSense.

Catalogue and exhibition range

Shop the exhibition catalogue and bespoke products developed in collaboration with Ai Weiwei. Every purchase supports the museum's future programme.

Kensington + Chelsea Art Week 2023

We are participating in this year's Kensington + Chelsea Art Week which showcases outdoor artworks from multiple artists across the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea with two marble sculptures created by Ai Weiwei – Marble Sofa [pair], 2011, and Pendant (Toilet Paper), 2021. Visiting times align with the exhibition from 22 June to 2 July 2023.

Podcast: Ai Weiwei in conversation with Justin McGuirk

Listen to a recent conversation between the artist and Chief Curator Justin McGuirk.

Ai Weiwei & Avant Arte

Created in collaboration with Avant Arte to accompany his landmark exhibition, a series of editions by Ai Weiwei present new opportunities to collect seminal moments and motifs from his expansive body of work.

Our 24-hour sale has ended. Thank you to everyone who has supported the museum by purchasing Ai Weiwei's print 'Middle Finger in Red'. Watch this space for more exclusive drops in collaboration with Avant Arte & Ai Weiwei.

#MakingSense Chatterbox

Download and print a dialogue-based two-player activity inspired by Ai Weiwei’s artistic concepts. This learning material was designed to extend the questioning spirit from the exhibition into the classroom, enabling further discussions. The printing, game and folding instructions are explained in the file – recommended paper size: A3. We hope you enjoy the game!

Chatterbox folding instructions guide for visitors.


Principal Funder: The Reuben Foundation

Committed to the betterment of society in the UK and around the globe in the areas of education, health and the community, The Foundation has recently supported The Reuben Foundation Maternity Centre at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, The Reuben Gallery at the BAFTA home on 195 Piccadilly, the Future Film Festival as well as international scholarships including The Reuben Scholarship Programme in partnership with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, UCL and ARK Schools.

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With additional support from the Ai Weiwei Supporters Circle: David and Debbie Stileman, Bianca and Stuart Roden, John Burbank, Anne-Lindsay Makepeace and Tarun Jotwani.

2023 Programme

Discover what else is coming up this year.