Top 10 London Galleries
Whether you love Old Masters or modern art, contemporary sculpture or Impressionist paintings, London’s art galleries have something for everyone. From British art in Tate Britain and contemporary work in Tate Modern to photography collections in the National Portrait Gallery, there is an abundance of world-class artworks on display, and the question is more, where to begin? Below are 10 suggestions to help you decide:
The crowning glory of Trafalgar Square and London’s most famous art gallery and it’s where you can view 2,300 masterpieces for free. The vast exhibition space displays Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries and you’ll find many familiar and famous works by masters such as Van Gogh, da Vinci, Botticelli, Constable, Renoir, Titian and the Pre-Raphaelites. The gallery gets very busy, particularly during the day, and if you can it’s a good idea to take advantage of the late opening until 9pm on Fridays. Entry is free but special exhibitions, usually in the Sainsbury’s Wing, require tickets and it’s advisable to pre-book.
National Portrait Gallery
Also, in Trafalgar Square, The National Portrait Gallery is home to the world’s largest collection of faces and personalities, spanning Tudor times to present day icons. As well as the permanent collection there are dedicated exhibitions to specific genres and it’s also home to one of the best roof-top restaurants in London. Entry is free except for special exhibitions.
The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House
Home to London’s Courtauld Institute where in addition to a world-famous collection of Old Masters, Impressionist and Post-impressionist paintings there is a rotating programme of exhibitions dedicated to art, design, fashion and photography.
Royal Academy of Art
Just off Piccadilly, the Royal Academy of Art is home to an exciting programme of exhibitions from Old Masters to contemporary artists. Founded in 1768 it’s also famous for its annual Summer Exhibition displaying new and recent art created by everyone from emerging artists to well-known, established names in contemporary art and architecture.
Home to the largest collection of British art in the world and dating from 1500 to the present day, its home to pre-Raphaelite paintings, landscapes by Turner and Francis Bacon’s distorted nudes. It’s away from the bustle of the centre of town, so a much calmer experience and if eat at the gallery’s restaurant and you can study the famous Rex Whistler mural. Entry is free except for special exhibitions.
Located on the banks of the Thames, Tate Modern is Britain’s national museum of modern and contemporary art. Previously a power station, the buildings imposing and unique shape, houses temporary exhibitions by top artists from Damien Hirst to Gauguin. Also, the gallery’s restaurant offers fabulous views across the river and city. Entry is free except for special exhibitions. Late night opening: Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm.
Small but perfectly formed and can be combined with a stroll in the park. The Serpentine Gallery is made up of two galleries situated either side of The Serpentine Lake in the middle of Kensington Gardens and exhibitions by world-famous artists of art, architecture and design run throughout the year. Entry is free.
Often missed but worth a visit, especially if you’re near Mayfair or Oxford Street. Located in an historic London townhouse, The Wallace Collection is one of London’s most sumptuous national museums with collections from the 18th and 19th centuries. The collection is best known for its paintings by artists including Titian, Rembrandt, Hals (The Laughing Cavalier) and Velázquez as well as one of the finest collections outside France of 18th century porcelain, furniture and gold boxes outside France.
From acclaimed architects to Turner prize-winning artists, as well as stars of design and photography, the Barbican Art Gallery presents major exhibitions by leading international figures. And the Barbican’s Curve is home to an exciting series of new art commissions created for the space.
Part of the Southbank Centre, the Hayward Gallery is one of London’ most important space for contemporary art and outdoor hanging space. The gallery is housed in an austere 1968 building (named after Sir Isaac Hayward a former leader of London City Council) and is an icon of sixties architecture that Londoners either love or hate. The Hayward exhibits artists of international stature and specialises in the works of modern masters and exciting names in contemporary art. It also hosts talks, special events and workshops.
For more information on specific exhibitions and galleries visit www.london-galleries.co.uk