The Best Art Galleries in London
London has a wealth of art and culture to offer tourists and locals alike. If you are unsure which galleries to visit, we at Arts and Collections are here to help.
Barbican Art Gallery
Expect to be greeted with themes that extend from Pop Art to architectural innovations and designer jewellery. The Barbican really is a diverse gallery, allowing guests to explore all manner of genres. Alongside their art exhibitions run a number of talks and workshops that discuss various topics. If you are in search of an interesting and varied experience, look no further.
The National Gallery
In bustling Trafalgar Square sits the National Gallery a tower of cultural excellence whose impressive art art collections span from the 13th century to the 20th. This charity-based gallery has gradually grown over the years to such seismic proportions that it is now revered as one of the best art galleries in London and the world. The building itself has significant history attached to it. Having been built in with uncountable masterpieces by artists like Turner and Van Gogh, it’s no wonder this is one of London’s top attractions. Better yet, the establishment is free to enter—even though they encourage donations upon entry.
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery really does what it says on the tin—it houses portraits of the most famous and significant figures from the 15th century to present day. From the royal family to pop royalty, a plethora of icons are featured here. While there is more of an emphasis on the stature of the sitters in this establishment, the array of memorable faces captured in still is a wonder to behold. Onlookers are presented with a progression of British culture through caricatures, sketches, sculptures and paintings.
Filled with contemporary art, this gallery receives over 1.5 million visitors every year. Situated in the former army barracks on the famous King’s Road the, its exhibitions present a mix of popular, daring and controversial content. From blockbuster to hardly known artists, this gallery has something special to offer its visitors. Often understated, the Saatchi Gallery is certainly one of the best art galleries in London.
Nestled between Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, there are actually two establishments that go by the name ‘Serpentine Gallery’. The first (and the original) was established in 1970. The second—the Serpentine Sackler Gallery—was designed in 2013. Both are worth taking the time to visit as they exhibit a great selection of British and international contemporary artists. Each summer, the institution hosts the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, an opportunity for a new architect to create a temporary structure that sits beside the gallery. It is often topically themed and a huge talking piece.
The Tate Britain opened its doors in 1897 and has a huge amount of culture and history to offer its visitors. The riverside location makes it a joyous place to visit—it also houses the largest amount of Turner paintings in the world. It offers a varied selection of art to marvel at, with samples from William Blake, John Constable and Whistler’s repertoires.
Famed for its daring and contemporary contents, the Tate modern shouldn’t be overlooked by anybody visiting London. Residing in a converted power station, this is the place for avant-garde art enthusiasts to assemble. Millions of visitors flock here each year to get a taste of the most vibrantly bold artists of today. While art is the focus here, the venue also plays host to various events such as parties, cinema screenings and Q&A evenings with the artists themselves. It is undeniable that this sleek playground of colour and artistic experimentation is one of the best art galleries in London.
If you have enjoyed reading this article on the best art galleries in London, click here to read more on Arts and Collections about The British Museum's recent photography collection.