Of all the cities in the United Kingdom, London has the highest concentration of free museums and art galleries which is just fantastic as well as being a whole lot of culture and heritage for absolutely nothing. The only difficult part comes in deciding which of London's amazing art galleries you want to visit and how many you've got time to fit into your itinerary.
Luckily we have done all the hard work for you and gathered together our top recommendations of art galleries in London which are well worth spending an hour or two of your time experiencing. There's something for everyone, whatever your arty tastes so why not read on and see:-
The Saatchi Gallery is a wonderful choice if you are interested in seeing cutting edge contemporary works of art. It aims to provide a forum for largely unseen artists either from the UK or internationally, and in particular to showcase works of art created by young people. The Saatchi Gallery is celebrating its 30 anniversary in 2015 and has a number of special exhibitions to celebrate this achievement. The Gallery is located in the former military barracks of the Duke of York's headquarters in Sloane Square and is very easily accessed by public transport. It is open 7 days a week, 10am to 6pm with last admissions at 5.30pm.
The National Gallery is housed inside a stunning building which is incredibly difficult to miss as it dominates Trafalgar Square and is often illuminated once dusk falls. It houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings some of which are the finest examples of Western European art shown anywhere in the world. You can see works from famous artists such as Monet, Botticelli, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. This is an ideal choice for anyone who is studying this period of art history, or anyone who wants to see some truly remarkable works of art, perhaps for the first time. Being centrally located it is very easy to access and is open 10am to 6pm daily with late opening on a Friday until 9pm.
National Portrait Gallery
Located directly next to the National Gallery, this isn't the place to come if you want to see some serious works of art but it is an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours if you have been to the National Gallery and want something else to add into your visit. You can see over 10,000 portraits here; all of figures from throughout British history with portraits such as Henry VIII and The Beatles hanging side by side. Probably not the place to go if you want to inject some serious art culture into your trip but an interesting way to pass the time regardless.
If you are interested in something a little bit different then why not try the Photographers Gallery. First opened in 1971 it was the UK's first gallery dedicated solely to photography. Here you can see a wide range of exhibitions relating to photography from contemporary and moderns works to historical archives. The gallery is open seven days week but free entry is only guaranteed if you arrive before 12pm, so if you are planning a vist here then it would be wise to make this the first thing on your agenda. Access is very easy as the gallery is situated in Central London, just a short walk from the Oxford Circus tube station.
Another one to add to the top of your itinerary if you are staying in one of the hotels in London Hyde Park is the Serpentine Gallery. This gallery has regularly changing exhibits and is another forum for contemporary works from artists both based in the UK and abroad. Perhaps one of the highlights of the gallery is the Summer Pavilion which takes place each year. A distinguished architect is invited to build a structure outside the gallery which is left in place throughout the summer months. There have been some truly fascinating structures on display in previous years so if you are making the most of one of the London hotels special offers during July or August then be sure to go along and take a look.
This was the original Tate Gallery, although it is now one of three other galleries across the UK, including the Tate Modern which is also in London. Primarily dedicated to showcasing British works of art, the pieces on display here cover the 1500s right up to the present day. For more recent works of art, visit Tate Britain's sister museum the aforementioned Tate Modern which is situated inside the converted Bankside Power Station and is actually one of Europe's most popular art galleries.
Street Art in London
If you truly want to step away from the traditional art galleries then another option would be to take a look at the street art which adorns many places in the city. Perhaps the most famous street artist is Banksy but there are also plenty of other names known to the street art circuit. Many of the original Banksy works have been removed or defaced but there are still plenty left which are worth seeing. You could plan your own tour based on information found online or book onto one of the street art walking tours which regularly take place. This is a great choice if you have teenagers or older children in tow who cannot fail to be impressed by this slightly different take on art culture.
This Information is provided by Shaftesbury Hyde Park International, to aware visitors about London.