Art on Display: The Top 5 Art Galleries in London

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Art and London have a proud and centuries-old relationship. From the middle ages through the Tudors, Edwardian, and Victorian eras as well as modern and contemporary art, somewhere in London is a gallery documenting the artistic thoughts of that time. The majority of London’s galleries are also free to public giving art back to the city and its visitors and making a trip to one of London’s renowned galleries a must on any trip to the capital. 

1 National Portrait Gallery

Founded in 1856 The National Portrait Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Portraits include people who have shaped British history from kings and queens to musicians and film stars. The Primary Collection only contains more than 11,000 portraits. Artists featured range from Holbein to Hockney and the collection includes work across all media, from painting and sculpture to photography and video. As well as the permanent displays, the National Portrait Gallery has a diverse programme of exhibitions and free events as well as a stunning rooftop restaurant with spectacular views across the London skyline.

St Martin's Pl, City of London WC2H 0HE

020 7306 0055

2 The National Gallery

The crowning glory of Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery houses the national collection of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Home to the world’s largest collection of faces and personalities, spanning from Tudor times to the present day. From Shakespeare to Kings and Queens, and icons of our time, it also has a photographic collection, and one of the best rooftop restaurants in London. The gallery is open 365 days a year and as stated on the website; “These pictures belong to the public and entrance to see them is free.

St Vincent House, 30 Orange St, WC2H 7HH

020 7747 2870

3 The Saatchi Gallery

Since first opened twenty –five years ago, The Saatchi Gallery has provided an innovative forum for contemporary artwork by largely unseen young artists or international artists whose work has been rarely or never exhibited in the UK. Many artists showing at The Saatchi Gallery are unknown when first exhibited, not only to the general public but also to the commercial art world but thanks to the gallery are often offered shows by galleries and museums internationally. In 2008 the gallery moved to it’s new 70,000 square foot location on the Duke of York HQ building on King's Road, Chelsea with an exhibition dedicated to new art from China.

Duke of York's HQ
King's Road

4 The Tate Modern

Tate Modern is the national gallery of international modern art. Created in 2000 from a disused power station in the heart of London, Tate Modern displays modern and contemporary art represents all the major movements from Fauvism on. It includes masterpieces by both Picasso and Matisse and one of the world's finest museum collections of Surrealism, including works by Dalí, Ernst, Magritte and Mirò. Its substantial holdings of American Abstract Expressionism include major works by Pollock as well as the nine Seagram Murals by Rothko. Tate has significant collections of Pop art, including major works by Lichtenstein and Warhol, Minimal art and Conceptual art. Tate also has particularly rich holdings of contemporary art since the 1980s.


London SE1

020 7887 8888

5 Tate Britain

Tate Britain holds the largest collection of British art in the world. The gallery shows work from the last five centuries, presenting an unrivalled picture of the development of art in Britain from the time of the Tudor monarchs in the sixteenth century, to the present day in a series of free changing displays. Tate's Collection includes masterpieces by British artists such as Hogarth, Gainsborough, Constable, Millais, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Sargent, Sickert, Hepworth and Bacon. The extraordinary work of JMW Turner can be seen in the Clore Gallery.

5 Atterbury Street, Westminster, SW1P 4

020 7887 8888

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