From the Tate Modern to the National Portrait Gallery, our guide to the art galleries you must visit in London

    (Wallace Collection)

(Wallace Collection)

When it comes to a trip to the capital, there is world-class art everywhere you look.

Looking for an iconic piece or looking to find the next big thing in the art world? All at your doorstep in London.

All thanks to the city’s excellent selection of galleries, home to hundreds of years of world-class art, from Leonardo to Warhol, from Turners to Turner Prize winners.

If you’re looking for some serious art in London, these are the art galleries that should be on your list.

National Gallery

    (PA Archive/PA Images)

(PA Archive/PA Images)

If you want to see the works of some of the most famous artists in history, the first place to go is the National Gallery. Nearly seven hundred years of work by the world’s greatest artists can be found here, including Leonardo, Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Vermeer, Rubens – seriously we could go on for a while. A stroll from the 14th-century galleries The Wilton Diptych to Pablo Picasso’s early works is both a delightful afternoon and a very thorough art history lesson.

Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, WC2N 5DN,

Modern Tate

    (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Another great one for giving up the name, but also for keeping your finger on the pulse. The Tate Modern showcases work from 1900, meaning modernist pioneers combine with work currently being done. The addition of the Herzog de Meuron-designed building has made it both bigger and better, but the grand old Turbine Hall still has the power to wow visitors, especially as it houses one of his signature epic installations.

Bank side, SE1 9TG,

United Kingdom

    (Alex Lentati)

(Alex Lentati)

You can see artists from all over the world in London, but that doesn’t mean you have to forget us Brits. Tate Britain covers the ages, similar to its younger sister gallery, but focuses on home-grown talent. This means you can see works by landscape master Turner, members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 20th-century painters Freud and Bacon, as well as Turner Prize winners and nominees.

Millbank, Westminster, SW1P 4RG,

Royal Academy of Arts

    (Rory Mulvey)

(Rory Mulvey)

This is no small feat, as it is one of the country’s most famous gallery spaces and a side business of the Royal Academy. The 250-year-old RA started and continues to be a functioning art school, but is known to many for its world-class exhibits. His collection is not on permanent display, so in recent years he has given all his strength to blockbuster shows, from an Ai Weiwei show to the exploration of abstract expressionism. And of course, the famous open presentation Summer Exhibition is one not to be missed.

Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD,

National Portrait Gallery

    (PA Archive/PA Images)

(PA Archive/PA Images)

Although the National Portrait Gallery is closed until June 2023, it is still worth taking a note for another day. London’s West End is pretty good for spotting celebrities, but the easiest place to do that is probably the National Portrait Gallery. It is home to kings, queens, cultural crushers and sports heroes – all in portrait form, of course – with a collection spanning over five hundred years of painting history. You can find Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in Tudor galleries, Mary Jane Seacole and her Bronte sisters in Victorian galleries, and Amy Winehouse, Stormzy and the late Queen in contemporary galleries.

st. Martin’s Place, Covent Garden, WC2H 0HE,

Barbican Gallery

    (Getty Images for Barbican Art Ga)

(Getty Images for Barbican Art Ga)

Part of one of Europe’s largest art centers, Barbican’s art gallery is known for pushing the boundaries with its spectacular shows. Alongside this accolade, it is renowned for bringing artists and subjects from the slums of modern art history to a wider audience with sharp exhibitions. Recent shows have included retrospectives on Carolee Schneemann, Dorothea Lange, Lee Krasner and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

1 Silk Street, The City, EC2Y 8DSâ€,

Wallace Collection

    (Wallace Collection)

(Wallace Collection)

Not so much a gallery as an art-filled time portal, this important collection of 18th and 19th century fine art and design at Hertford House is the work of Sir Richard Wallace and his ancestors. Paintings in the collection include works by Rembrandt, Fragonard, Rubens, Canaletto, Velazquez, and the wonderful Laughing Cavalier by Franz Hals.

Hertford House, Manchester Square, Mayfair, W1U 3BN,

Dulwich Picture Gallery

A little history for you: The Dulwich Picture Gallery is the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery. Sir John Soane was the legendary architect who worked on it and designed it in a groundbreaking way that allowed plenty of natural light into the exhibition space. Under its roof you will find works by Old Masters of the 18th and 19th centuries such as Rembrandt, Murillo, Van Dyck, Poussin, Gainsborough and Constable.

Gallery Road, Dulwich, SE21 7AD,

Hayward Gallery

    (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Art lovers were delighted when Hayward Gallery reopened its doors in early 2018 after a two-year hiatus, and even happier when things started with an exhibition by large-scale photographer Andreas Gursky. The Brutalist building focuses largely on contemporary art, with occasional nods to its modernist roots, and the exhibition program varies, with group performances on gender identity and retrospectives on key artists such as Bridget Riley.

Southbank Center, 337-338 Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX,

Serpentine Gallery

    (2007 John Offenbach)

(2007 John Offenbach)

A gallery that tends to spread its love of contemporary art outside its walls and into the surrounding park, with the Serpentine Pavilion created by a different architect or designer each year. The ongoing exhibition program always includes some of the most cutting-edge names in contemporary art and showcases work in all disciplines, from video art to architecture.

Kensington Gardens, Kensington, W2 3XA,

White Chapel Gallery

    (PA Archive/PA Images)

(PA Archive/PA Images)

For many years the East End has been a hub for artists and Whitechapel Gallery has been there for over a hundred artists. However, the focus is largely on what happens now and after. While not against a 20th-century artists retrospective, its ties to London’s working artist community are strong and ongoing, so it’s a great place to find work by new artists on their way to becoming famous.

77-82 Whitechapel Main Street, Whitechapel, E1 7QX,

Saatchi Gallery

    (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Everyone knows the name of this groundbreaking London gallery that has been responsible for launching the careers of many young artists. The Saatchi Gallery is probably best known for its role in purchasing some of YBA’s (Young British Artists) works in the 1990s – but still captivating London’s art lovers with its compelling contemporary art exhibitions to date.

Duke of York Headquarters, King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 4RY,

Photographers Gallery

    (Courtesy of Photographers' Gallery 2012/Kate Elliott, Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street)

(Courtesy of Photographers’ Gallery 2012/Kate Elliott, Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street)

If you’re looking for a bit of cultural respite from the retail cacophony of Oxford Street, it doesn’t get much better than a trip to the Photographers’ Gallery. If you’re even slightly interested in Gram, a trip to the UK’s largest gallery dedicated to photography is highly recommended, with exhibits showcasing contemporary developments and explorations of the medium’s past.

16-18 Ramillies Street, Soho, W1F 7LW,

Home and Wirth

Located just off Regent Street, Hauser & Wirth is one of London’s coolest exhibition spaces. The next exhibition of the gallery, which will open on February 1, belongs to the contemporary artist Günther Förg Tupfenbilder. An acclaimed but not yet known name, he does thought-provoking and visually exciting conceptual work. Recent London exhibitions include painter Amy Sherald (here best known for her official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama), influential sculptor Larry Bell, and Venezuelan-born American painter Luchita Hurtado.

23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET,

Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

Although located just outside The Mall, ICA has established itself as the home of London’s radical arts and culture. In addition to holding exhibitions, there is a packed program of evening events that includes parties, film screenings, talks, book launches, workshops and alternative performances that you will find hard to find in many other galleries in this center of London.

The Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5AH,

White Cube

Since its founding in 1993, White Cube has grown from a small career-starting spot in Hoxton to a half-dozen YBA sets, into a major blue chip gallery with venues all over the world, representing famous artists, including famous international artists. Michael Armitage, Tracey Emin and Anselm Kiefer. The Bermondsey space – certainly a series of white cubes, polished concrete floors – is so opulent it feels like a public museum without a cafe. Recent artists featured both here and at the St James area at Mason’s Yard have included Bram Bogart, David Altmejd, Liu Wei and Rachel Kneebone.

144-152 Bermondsey Street London SE1 3TQ,

Victoria Miro

Isaac Julien, The Lady of the Lake (Lesson of the Hour), 2019 (Isaac Julien. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro)

Isaac Julien, The Lady of the Lake (Lesson of the Hour), 2019 (Isaac Julien. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro)

Opened in 1985 by art dealer Victoria Miro, this Islington spot capitalizes on its impeccable taste, with exhibitions from renowned artists such as Grayson Perry and Idris Khan, Francesca Woodman, Alice Neel (soon to be the subject of a big show in London). Barbican), Yayoi Kusama, and Isaac Julien (soon, er, going to be the subject of a big show at Tate Britain). Miro would often discover artists at the Royal College of Art and would certainly bring a touch of class, apparently moving to the area shortly after the White Cube became trendy.

16 Pier Rd, London N1 7RW,

Untitled (NRAL 2 from Ray's a Laugh), 1994, Richard Billingham (© Richard Billingham / Courtesy Center for British Photography, London)

Untitled (NRAL 2 from Ray’s a Laugh), 1994, Richard Billingham (© Richard Billingham / Courtesy Center for British Photography, London)

This brand new three-story, 8,000-square-foot site will be the go-to place in London for photography done in England. Current exhibits benefiting from the Hyman Collection, a private collection now available to the public, include the exploration of 20th-century English homes and Headstrong: Women and Empowerment, curated by the advocacy group Fast Forward: Women in Photography. .

49 Jermyn St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6LX,

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