London is well known for being a hub of culture and whether you are a complete novice when it comes to works of art or an expert on everything from impressionist paintings to contemporary sculpture, there is a gallery to suit your tastes in the capital. From world-class pieces to unique exhibitions, why not factor in a visit to one of London’s art galleries during your next trip and see if you can’t be wowed and inspired?
Located within the Southbank Centre, the Hayward Gallery is named after Sir Isaac Hayward, the former leader of London County Council. It plays host to a number of international and specialist exhibitions and has a long history of displaying some of the world’s most innovative and unique artists. There are also usually a number of talks, workshops and special events taking place throughout the week so if you have a particular interest in contemporary art then it is well worth seeing what’s on here next time you are in London.
This iconic art gallery is set within Trafalgar Square (well worth a visit on its own) and houses the National collection of Western European paintings from the 13 century through to the 19th century. Completely free to enter, if you visit the National Gallery you will have the chance to see works of art by the likes of Cézanne, Monet, Rembrandt and Van Gogh to name but just a few of the well known and renowned artists who features in this impressive gallery.
National Portrait Gallery
Once you have exhausted the delights of the National Gallery then why not head on over to its neighbour, the National Portrait Gallery? Again, entry here is completely free and this gallery is home to the world’s largest collection of portraits. All kinds of famous faces feature here, from British Kings and Queens to iconic figures from throughout history. Incidentally, the National Portrait Gallery also has a wonderful rooftop restaurant which offers stunning panoramic views across Trafalgar Square and the London skyline.
Royal Academy of Arts
This historical academy was founded in 1768 and is home to a varied programme of world-class exhibitions. Previous exhibitions have included everything from ancient sculptures to large scale installations; one highlight of the Royal Academy of Arts has to be that it is host to the only Michelangelo sculpture in the whole of the UK. Well worth a visit for that alone. It is located in Piccadilly making it very easy to access if you are staying in one of the Central London hotels like The Montcalm Hotel At The Brewery London City.
This Chelsea based gallery is all about providing a forum for contemporary art, predominantly by young unseen artists or international artists whose work has never or rarely been exhibited in the UK. It takes its name from current owner Charles Saatchi, but will be renamed the Museum of Contemporary Art upon his retirement as he has graciously made the decision to donate the works of art and the gallery to the country.
This wonderful gallery is situated at the heart of Hyde Park and showcases international modern art by well known names including Andy Warhol. If you happen to be visiting London between June and October then be sure to check out the Serpentine Pavilion commission; over the last 15 years the Serpentine Pavilion has been the site for some inspirational architecture by some of the world’s greatest architects. In fact, it is one of the top ten most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world and this year is set to be the biggest and best one yet.
Entry to this well known art gallery is free and you’ll find lots to see here; the Tate Britain is home to the largest collection of British art in the world and is perhaps most notable for its JMW Turner collection. It is part of the Tate network of galleries but is the oldest, having been open since 1897 and features a fantastic mix of contemporary and historical pieces of art.
Located on the banks of the River Thames and situated inside a disused power station, the Tate Modern is a champion of international modern art. As with the Tate Britain, it is part of the Tate network. There is plenty to see and do here, from daily free guided tours to family activities designed to engage children of all ages.
Of course, there are also plenty of other places to see well known pieces of art aside from the art galleries. Many crop up in some of the other historical attractions around the city and some of the famous landmarks also occasionally run special art exhibitions. Searching for popular attractions, such as what’s on at the Tower of London is a great way to discover these special events ahead of time.