London

The Best Art Galleries in London 

We’ve all got our own tastes when it comes to art, that’s for sure. Yet whatever your tastes, you are guaranteed to find somewhere to pique your interest in London. Showcasing the abstract, the realist and the downright surreal, London’s galleries are known world-over for their cultural significance and renowned collections – including everything from painting to sculpture to cinema and more. So that you can skip straight to the good part, we’ve picked out some of the best galleries in London for you to visit during a luxury break for a veritable affair of the ‘art.

 

The National Gallery

The National Gallery, located in Trafalgar Square, is one of the most famous of all London’s galleries. Exhibiting one of the finest collections of paintings in the world, it features over 2,000 works from some of the greatest names in art history from the 13th Century onwards. With free entrance, you can take your time wandering its corridors and rooms, soaking up the brush strokes of the likes of van Eyck, Velázquez, Turner and Van Gogh. 

The National Portrait Gallery

Holding the largest collection of portraits in the world, the walls of the National Portrait Gallery are peppered with thousands of unique works. Capturing faces from the 16th Century through to the present day, the gallery serves to celebrate the people and visages who have shaped British history and culture. Naturally, if you find yourself swept away by the romance of portraiture, then you should definitely head over to the NPG for a few hours – or the whole day!

Royal Academy of Arts

Founded in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts has been championing artists and artistry for more than 250 years. Encouraging not only the appreciation of art but the practice of it too, it’s a great place to go to soak up inspiration – whether you’re admiring the incredible talent on display or stirring up your own creative juices. Located in Burlington House on Piccadilly, it’s open throughout the year with an ever-changing schedule of displays, exhibitions and events. 

Tate Britain

In 1892, Millbank Penitentiary, a former prison, was selected as the site of the National Gallery of British Art – a gallery that would officially become known as the Tate Gallery in 1932. Located along the river from what is now the Tate Modern, it is today a household name and a must-visit for any art-lover in London. Within its prestigious walls, the Tate Britain provides a chronological display of the greatest artists in Britain – arranged by decade rather than artist for a discovery of the ages.

Tate Modern 

If you’re a fan of contemporary art, you’ll have heard about the Tate Modern. One of the world’s leading galleries for modern art, it draws admirers from near and far ready to see international and British masterpieces. Housed within the former Bankside Power Station overlooking the Millennium Bridge, it provides a striking setting in which to spark your imagination – with Cézanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Pollock and Warhol just a few artists you can expect to see.

Hauser & Wirth

A real visitor experience, Hauser & Wirth’s London gallery on Saville Row (cousin to its Somerset gallery) features two exhibition spaces: the North Gallery and the South Gallery. As well as its ever-evolving exhibitions, it also hosts a regular line up of evenings including artists talk, films and classes. It also has a library, archive and gallery shop, in which you can spend a liberal amount of time pouring over monographs, artists’ writings and books, historic exhibition catalogues and more.

Hayward Gallery

For some really grand designs, Hayward Gallery within London’s Southbank Centre is the place to go. Since being founded in 1968, this pioneering gallery has had a huge influence on both the national and international visual art scene and its structure is one of the best examples of Brutalist architecture in the UK. Known for its ground-breaking displays, it features a range of exhibitions that constantly change throughout the year, ensuring that you are always treated to something new to see. 

The Queen’s Gallery

One of the most fascinating galleries to visit in London is the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. Here, rotating exhibitions from the Royal Collection reveal stunning master paintings, antique furniture, decorative arts and never-before-seen images from the Palace. With each exhibition displaying around 450 works and artefacts, it makes for a superb day out for all generations looking to learn a little more about British Royal history.

The Barbican Art Gallery

The Barbican Centre is the largest performing arts centre in Europe and is a magnet for all those looking to express their creativity and admire that of others. While there are lots of things to see and do within the centre, art aficionados will be particularly drawn to the Centre’s art gallery, which hosts all kinds of different exhibitions throughout the year including features on art, architecture, design, fashion and film.

Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Dulwich Picture Gallery on Gallery Road in London has a very important place in the world’s art history: it is the first purpose-built public art gallery in the world. Established in 1811, the gallery’s original collection was bequeathed by the painter and art dealer Sir Francis Bourgeois, so that everyone could inspect and enjoy them. Today, it is a hub of activity with plenty going on. Think: leading exhibitions, Baroque masterpieces, events and more. 

The Serpentine Galleries

To extend your tour of the best art galleries in London, visit the Serpentine Galleries. Featuring two galleries on either side of the Serpentine Bridge in Kensington Gardens, these superb galleries are within a 5-minute wander from each other and well worth visiting if you’re a fan of contemporary art. Championing both new and established artists from all over the world, the galleries have been a pioneering force in the London art scene for over 50 years. 

Saatchi Gallery

With its large airy rooms and high ceilings, the enormous, 70,000sqft Saatchi building in Chelsea is an ideal place to spend an afternoon viewing contemporary art. Focusing on emerging artists, it parades an always updating rotation of exhibitions – combining the ground-breaking, the unusual and the sometimes controversial to create a ripple of excitement and intrigue. To take a little piece home with you, there’s also a great shop within the gallery.

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