Museums & Exhibition Spaces
Most museums and exhibition spaces offer free entrance to the permanent collections. Although all the museums and collections listed below are highly recommended, those the first time visitor should not miss are marked with ***.
The National Gallery houses the national collection of Western European painting from the 13th to the early 20th century. More than 2300 works encompass the time from medieval Italy to the French Impressionists.
3th- to 15th-century paintings
Duccio, Uccello, van Eyck, Lippi, Mantegna, Botticelli, Dürer
Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Holbein, Bruegel,Titian, Veronese
Caravaggio, Rubens, Poussin, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer
18th- to early 20th-century paintings
Canaletto, Goya, Turner, Constable, Ingres, Degas, Cézanne
Famous among art lovers is Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth which hosts specially commisioned artwork. Marc Quinn's white marble sculpture "Alison Lapper Pregnant", which was exhibited between 2005 and 2007 and showed a disabled pregnant women, was probably the most controversial work.
Location: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN (map)
Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts is an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent UK painters, sculptors and architects. The Academians include for instance such painters as Tacita Dean, Gary Hume, and Jenny Saville, and sculptors such as Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley and Anish Capoor. Norman Foster is one of the most prominent architects of the Academy.
The Royal Academy annually stages several world class loan exhibitions, as well as the "Summer Exhibition" - with works for sale.
The Royal Academy also has its own collection of works by past and present Royal Academicians.
Location: Burlington House, Piccadilly London W1J 0BD, (map)
Location: Kensington Gardens
London W2 3XA (map)
Located in Kensington Gardens, this Gallery is a small but hip exhibition space for modern and contemporary art. Besides exhibition programs the Serpentine Gallery hosts talks (Saturday talks) and seminars which are free to the public.
This gallery houses the national collection of British art from the year 1500 to the present day, as well as a selection of international modern art. On display are works by many artists, including Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon.
Special attention is paid to William Blake, John Constable and JMW Turner who each have dedicated spaces within the gallery. There are nearly 300 oil paintings and 30.000 works on paper by Turner.
Tate Britain is also known for the Turner Prize exhibition and for the Art Now program where the latest contemporary art is shown. Tate Britain also runs a very active events and education program.
Location: 5 Atterbury St
Westminster, London SW1P 4 (map)
Created in the year 2000 from a disused power station on the South Bank of the river Thames, the Tate Modern today ranks among the most popular art museums worldwide. The gallery displays an outstanding collection of international modern and contemporary art. On display are masterpieces by Picasso, Braque, Ernst , Magritte, Pollock, Rothko, Giacometti, Lichtenstein, Warhol and more. Besides showing works from its permanent collection, Tate Modern also stages changing exhibitions of the cream of contemporary and modern art.
Also famous are the temporary installations which are set up by contemporary artists in the vast turbine hall. The artists invited have included Louise Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Bruce Nauman, Rachel Whiteread and Ai Weiwei.
London SE1 9TG (map)
The Whitechapel Gallery is an established exhibition space which holds several international contemporary art exhibitions per year, and which has helped to establish and promote the careers of many artists. The gallery also offers various educational programs, for instance a two year MA program: Curating the Contemporary.
Location: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London E1 7QX (map), Underground: Aldgate East
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum is famous for its extensive collection of art and design covering a span of over 3000 years. Although the museum showcases world class painting, photography and sculpture, its uniqueness and reputation is mainly based on its excellent collection of ceramics, furniture, glass, jewellery, metalwork, and textiles from different times and cultures. Overall the collection comprises more that 1 million pieces.
The museum also holds several annual exhibitions on various topics, including architecture, design, fashion and photography.
Location: Cromwell Rd, London SW7 2RL (map)
The most prominent private collection in London is the Saatchi Gallery. After previously being housed in two other places in London, in 2008 the Saatchi Gallery found its new home in the Duke of York HQ building on King's Road in Chelsea.
For many years Charles Saatchi´s passion for collecting and showcasing young art has been well known in the art community. The Saatchi Gallery focusses on introducing to the public fresh, international art which has not yet been widely exhibited elsewhere;it attracts more than half a million visitors a year.
Location: The Duke of York's HQ, Sloane Square, (map)
In 2007 Poju and Anita Zabludowicz opened the Zabludowicz Collection in the north of Regent's Park . This collection brings to the public contemporary art from the 1970s to today's most recent developments. The opening hours are restricted: Thursdays to Sundays in the afternoons, other times are possible by appointment.
Location: 176 Prince of Wales Road
NW5 3PT (map)
The gallery scene in London is lively, in constant movement and expansion. Galleries are spread all over London, with most of them located in Mayfair, the West End and Shoreditch (map). Gagosian, Sadie Coles, Hauser & Wirth and White Cube each now maintain two galleries in London.