The air and vibrant cultural life that London is known for, would’ve been impossible to fathom without the city’s thriving art scene. At any given time, there are about 1500 permanent art exhibition spaces in London, spanning different mediums, genres, and historical periods. To save you the time and effort on deciding where to go, we have crafted this list of London’s top ten art galleries that you can not miss!
- The National Gallery
Founded in 1824, the 46,000 square meters gallery contains over 2,300 works including the most popular paintings in the world. The gallery is an art history course in all major traditions of Western European painting with works such as Van Eyck’s ‘Arnolfini Portrait’, Velázquez’s ‘Rokeby Venus’, Turner’s ‘Fighting Temeraire’ and Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’.
We particularly loved the chance to see first-hand Hans Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors’ (1533) in room 12, showcasing one of the finest examples of anamorphosis in art!
📍You’ll find the Gallery at Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, open from 10 am – 6pm daily, and till 9pm Fridays. The main free entrance is the Portico, with step-free access at the Getty Entrance.
- The Royal Academy of Art
Founded in 1768, the 250 year old gallery houses almost 46,000 items in an 8,813 square meters campus. Their collection features sculptures, drawings, paintings, and architecture. Majority of the artists and art comes from Royal Academy members which include some of the most prominent artists in the world from John Constable to Reynolds, Tracemy Emin, Sir Anthony Caro, Millais, and Dame Laura Knight.
During our visit, Yinka Shonibare’s multicultural sculpture, ‘Cheeky Little Astronomer’ (2013), stood out in its juxtaposition of western classicism with universal and global overtones.
📍You’ll find the Royal Academy of Art at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD. Open 6 days a week from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm, and Fridays till 9pm. For entry to the main galleries use the Piccadilly entrance, and the Burlington gardens entrance for the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler and Collection galleries.
- Tate Britain
Established in 1897 the collection at Tate Britain explores 500 years of British art spread out over an area of 34,400 square meters. The gallery features works from 1500 to the present day by artists such as William Blake, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, William Hogarth among others and is home to the world’s largest collection of works by JMW Turner.
We loved David Hockney’s pop art classic, ‘A Bigger Splash’ (1967) placed in room 19, which shows the splash of water in an incredibly slow way – such that it can never be seen in real life.
📍You’ll find TATE Britain at Millbank, London SW19 4RG, open throughout the week from 10am – 6pm. Entry is via the Manton Entrance ramp on Atterbury Street or via the steps from Millbank.
- Whitechapel Gallery
Founded in 1901, the Whitechapel Gallery has hosted international artists like Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo. With a particular focus on Modern and Contemporary Art, the gallery has no permanent exhibition but a rolling programme showcasing art from around the world.
We loved the gallery’s unique bookshop publishing a range of contemporary art catalogs, artist’s books, and archival reprints, with titles impossible to find elsewhere.
📍You’ll find the gallery at 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX, open Tuesday to Sunday 11am – 6pm pm and till 9pm Thursdays. There is a stepped Cafe Entrance and a main entrance with ramp access.
- Camden Art Centre
Founded in 1965, the Centre was designed with the purpose of community engagement with art, constantly fostering a sense of belonging. Staying true to its aim, for over 50 year, the centre has extended its support to artists including Martin Creed, Kerry James Marshall, Kara Walker, Sophie Calle, Yinka Shonibare, Mike Nelson and Mary Heilman.
We loved the courses that the center offers, inviting people from all backgrounds to dive their hands into art making!
📍You’ll find the Centre at Arkwright Road, London NW3, open Tuesday to Sunday 11am – 6pm pm and till 9pm Thursdays. The main stepped entrance is located on the corner of Finchley Road and Arkwright road with a level access entrance 10 meters up Arkwright road.
Established in 1988, Autograph’s gallery champions the work of artists who use photography and film to highlight questions of race, representation, and social justice. The gallery hosts artists including Zanele Muholi, James Barnor, Ingrid Pollard, Colin James, and Ajamu.
We particularly enjoyed viewing personal family albums which address gaps in the visual representation of Britain’s history and its diverse communities.
📍You’ll find the gallery at Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA, open Wednesday and Friday 11am – 6pm, till 9pm Thursdays, and 12:30pm – 6pm Saturdays. The main entrance has both level and step-free access.
- Eden Gallery
With its inception in 1997, Eden is an international gallery focusing on contemporary art with an optimistic and colorful view on life. In their 12,000 square feet London campus, the collection boasts over 26 distinguished artists from around the world, including those exclusive to Eden such as David Kracov, Angelo Accardi, and graffiti sensation Alec Monopoly.
We were highly taken aback by Angelo Accardi’s wall sculpture, ‘Ostrich Trophy’, which, in its surrealist connotations, asks each of us to pause and enter a new kind of reflective celebration altogether.
📍You’ll find the gallery at 103 New Bond Street, London W1S 1ST, open 7 days a week 9am – 9pm. The main entrance has step-free access.
- 180 the strand
Founded in 2016, the cultural center has transformed an iconic Brutalist building into London’s new home for innovative, large-scale, tech-infused New Media art with immersive and sensory heightening experiences which leave you challenging notions of reality. Among artists featured in their collection are pioneering immersive art collective United Visual Artists (UVA), Es Devlin, Carsten Nicolai, Refix Anadol, and Hito Steyerl.
We loved their in-house magazine ‘Fact’, a multi-media platform championing the global movement of electronic and is a must-see for all those interested in the new frontiers of art and technology.
📍You’ll find the gallery at 180 Arundel Strand, Temple, London WC2R 1EA, open daily 10am – 6pm, and is accessible via a private entrance on the Strand.
9. Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art
Located on the campus of the prestigious Goldsmiths University, the 1000 square meters center opened in 2018 and is constantly enhancing the university’s reputation for excellence and innovation in the arts. The Centre often features international artists including Shadi Al-Atallah, Pilvi Takala, Cinzia Raggeri, Ebun Sodipo, Hadi Fallahpisheh, and Virginia Overton.
We highly recommend spending time with the ‘Episodes’ series at the center, with solo presentations that provide counterpoints to the larger-scale exhibitions, becoming an experimental platform for emergent practices.
📍You’ll find the Centre at St.James, New Cross, London SE14 6AD, open Wednesday to Sunday 12pm – 6pm. The main entrance has level access, and the rear entrance is step-free.
- Dulwich Picture Gallery
Founded in 1811 the 3000 square meter gallery is the oldest public art gallery in London. It is especially known for one of the finest collections of Old Master paintings in the world, rich in French, Italian and Spanish Baroque paintings. Works include those by Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Poussin, and Murillo.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of our visit was the chance to see in person Nicolas Poussin’s masterpiece ‘The Triumph of David’ (1633) in Gallery 11, and explore the theatrical language of human gestures in the work.
📍You’ll find the gallery at Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD, open Tuesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm. The entrance and everything in the gallery is on one level and has step-free access.
What is the biggest art gallery in London?
The Victoria and Albert Museum is the biggest art gallery not just in London, but in all of the UK, with a collection of over 4.5 million objects that spans an impressive 5,000 years.
Where can I see classic art in London?
The National Gallery, London.
Where is the most famous art in London?
Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait.
Which is the oldest art gallery in London?
Dulwich Picture Gallery of Southwark
Suggested Art Gallery Tour – Which art gallery should I visit in London?
If you enjoy contemporary works, we highly recommend visiting Autograph, Eden Gallery, 180 the Strand, and Goldsmiths CCA. If you’re looking to dive into the past, visiting the National Gallery, Royal Academy of Art and Tate Britain is a must!