11 Must See Art Galleries In London

Barbican Art Gallery, Hayward Gallery, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Saatchi Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Somerset House, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery - 6 years ago by

Barbican Art Gallery

One of the major art galleries for photography, fine art and design exhibitions, the Barbican Art Gallery is located in the Barbican Centre alongside places, where big concerts and theatrical performances are being hosted. Its location and constantly changing curiosities make it an  excellent place for not only a one time visit, but also regular trips.

 

Hayward Gallery

The Hayward Gallery is one of the more interesting art buildings you can see in London. It is made entirely out of concrete in some peculiar forms you'll either love or hate. The style is called Brutalist architecture, which speaks for itself. Contemporary art is the name of the game and the gallery presents us with regular exhibitions from modern masters of the craft. The place also hosts special events and has some fine workshops, so there are things to do outside of simply viewing great art pieces.

 

National Gallery

The National Gallery in London is perhaps one of the most striking buildings in the already loaded Trafalgar Square. It offers to its visitors more than 2 000 paintings from the Middle Ages to 20th century. Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Renoir and Van Gogh are some of the names you'll see there. The best thing about this gallery is that it is completely free to visit, so make it your first priority. Special exhibitions and lectures are also included for the interested.

 

National Portrait Gallery

This is another beauty from the Trafalgar Square and similarly to the other national gallery it is also completely free to visit. As the name implies, you'll see centuries' worth of portraits there. Not only artists but also kings, queens, musicians and film stars. The collection doesn't stop at just paintings, there are photographs, sculptures and videos to watch. The building also boasts one of the best rooftop restaurants with great views over London. An obvious must see.

 

Royal Academy of Arts

When walking down Piccadilly don't forget to visit Annenberg Courtyard and the Royal Academy of Arts. It is the oldest art institution in Britain, founded in 1768, and its imposing architecture makes this very evident. It houses some very diverse temporary and touring exhibitions, it depends on which time of the year you visit the gallery. It does have an annual and very interesting Summer Exhibition to offer, so don't forget to check it out when you are visiting during this season.

 

Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery is located in Chelsea and is named after its owner, Charles Saatchi. He is very much  into collecting contemporary art and likes to exhibit pieces from young and international artists, who rarely get to show their work in front of an English audience. It is an impressive building with 12 operational gallery spaces, which is completely free to visit. This is becoming a trend for London.

 

Serpentine Gallery

This aptly named gallery can be found in the middle of Hyde park, sitting in a beautiful spot. It is a small but perfectly functional building, which offers its visitors various modern and contemporary art exhibitions by such greats like Andy Warhol, Piero Manzoni, Cindy Sherman and Chris Ofili. In the summer the annual architectural pavilion commission can be seen there. As with some of the other entries on this list, the Serpentine Gallery is a completely free thing to go and see.

 

Somerset House

In the Somerset House there are two galleries, which will spark your interest - the Courtauld Gallery and the Embankment Gallery. The first one shows some impressive collection from impressionist and post-impressionist masters, while the second one has a varied programs, dealing with art, design, photography and fashion exhibitions. The building itself is very spectacular and located right in the middle of London, between the Strand and the River Thames. The 55 fountains are a big attraction during the summer, while ice skating there is very popular during the winter. The whole thing, as you might have guessed, is world class.

 

Tate Britain

Tate Britain holds the largest collection of beautiful British art in the entire world, so if you are interested in some exploration of the country's history and nuances you'll be hard pressed to find a better place. The works there are from 1500 to the present days. Artists like Gainsborough, Hogarth, Millais and Whistler are mixed with the more modern Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst. Oh, before I forget, the restaurant there is top notch too. The entry is completely free, the British must be proud with what they have on offer there.

 

Tate Modern

Tate Modern sits proudly on the banks of River Thames. Its other name is Britain's national museum of modern and contemporary art and it shows once you visit it. Tate Modern's shape is truly unique due to the building, which houses it, being a power station at some point. The structure looks great, especially during the early hours of the evening with its colorful lights. It contains works from all around the world, with its main Turbine Hall being the most massive and awe-inspiring place to look at art inside of. Cézanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Rothko, Dalí, Pollock, Warhol and Bourgeois are some of the artists on display and even though most of the exhibitions there are free, for some of them you'll need a ticket.

 

Whitechapel Gallery

Located in East London, the Whitechapel Gallery presents works from artists of the caliber of Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock,  Mark Rothko, Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Mark Wallinger. It was founded in the beginning of 20th century and deals mostly with modern and contemporary art. The gallery doesn't run only exhibitions though. There are historic archives, education resources, inspiring art courses and even a dining room, and a bookshop. Visiting it is free, of course, it is also always open throughout the year, so going there should be a top priority for all art lovers.