A quick guide to London’s top art galleries
If you’re an art lover, then London’s a fabulous destination – as it has hundreds of art galleries for you to explore. In fact, by some estimates, there are around 1,500 permanent gallery spaces in the capital.Choosing an art gallery visit will depend on your taste in art, as well as whether you’re going to just browse the pieces on display, or are intending to make a purchase – but if you’re not sure where to start, here’s a run-down of London’s top art galleries:
The National Gallery : Presiding over Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery is an enormous gallery, which mostly contains Western European paintings from the 13th to 19th centuries. Works by masters like Constable, Titian, Van Gogh, da Vinci, Renoir, Botticelli and Stubbs can be found within this gallery and it also holds special exhibitions throughout the year.
The Barbican Art Gallery : A trip to the Barbican is a treat in itself if you like modern art and architecture, as the entire estate is a prime example of 1960s brutalist design. The art gallery is part of the Barbican Centre for arts and conferences. It offers a changing programme of photography, fine art and design from leading international figures. There’s also the Barbican Curve, a smaller gallery that presents new and recently produced work by contemporary artists. Royal Academy of ArtsFounded in 1768, the RA works to promote art and artists through exhibitions, education and debate. Its regularly changing programme of exhibitions is extremely diverse, and in the past has included everything from ancient sculptures to modern-day masterpieces.
Saatchi Gallery : Situated in Chelsea, this gallery’s focus is on contemporary art and it presents works by young artists, as well as established contemporary artists that are otherwise usually unseen in the UK.
Serpentine Gallery : Located in the middle of Hyde Park in what was once a tea pavilion, the Serpentine Gallery offers a showcase of international modern and contemporary art. The works of world-famous artists like Andy Warhol, Man Ray and Damien Hirst have been displayed in the main gallery. In 2013, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery opened, providing more exhibition space, and every year since 2000, the Serpentine has also commissioned a temporary summer pavilion by a leading architect whose team has not completed a building in England at the time of the invitation.
Somerset House : This beautiful, historic building is a major part of London’s cultural scene and it hosts a broad range of exhibitions throughout the year. As well as its contemporary art and design exhibitions, Somerset House also hosts open-air concerts and films, family workshops and guided tours of the house. In the summer, the courtyard is popular for its 55 dancing fountains and in the winter, it offers one of London’s favourite outdoor ice rinks.
Tate Modern : Located in an old power station on the south bank of the Thames, the Tate Modern is the UK’s leading museum of modern and contemporary art.Tate BritainAn art gallery on Millbank, this museum features a collection of British art from 1500 to the present. Every year, it stages the Turner Prize exhibition.