The Best Art Galleries and Museums in London – Fodor's Travelby September 4, 2022
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Whether you’re an expert art lover, a collector on the hunt for more pieces, or completely new to the scene, London has some of the best galleries that offer insight into the world of art.
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One of my favorite galleries in the capital is Unit London. Located in Mayfair, Unit London is a contemporary art gallery showcasing work by both well-known and up-and-coming artists. With regular exhibitions and events alongside opportunities to meet artists and hear them speak of their journey and work, Unit London is a great gallery to start in when trying to break into the art scene and explore different artists from all over the world.
White Cube is a contemporary art gallery with two sites, one in Bermondsey and the other in Mason’s Yard in Central London. I’m a regular at the Bermondsey branch and I’m a big fan of its interior. The gallery’s large open clean space is very minimal and usually allows a few people in at a time. This makes White Cube a perfect setting to really focus on the works of art and take everything in. Due to its size and space, there are often exhibitions consisting of more than paintings but also sculptures of various sizes from something medium-sized to immense pieces.
In October 2021, this legendary 5-star hotel unveiled a new gallery, Claridges Artspace, showcasing all types of art from photographic work to large fixtures and sculptures. I visited during the first few months of its opening and saw the exhibition, which was part of the launch by Damien Hirst. The exhibition consisted of a series of colorful animals made by Hirst using bright and bold pipe cleaners along with a display of his color chart series. I personally think this is a great move by Claridge’s as it opens its doors to a more creative scene with people who perhaps may not have visited the hotel before, but will give them a taste of the hotel through its ArtSpace.
Saatchi Gallery is one I have been visiting for many years since my early twenties. It’s a gallery of contemporary art founded by Charles Saatchi in 1985 and a platform for incredible art and exhibitions by emerging artists. It’s a gallery that never disappoints and even if you’re not into art, it will be hard to come away from here and not feel inspired to do or explore something creative. Located in Sloane Square, Saatchi Gallery is a great place to spend a good chunk of the day and is in an area with great outdoor restaurants, boutique stores, cafes, and street-food markets.
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I love Eden Gallery; it has some of the most colorful, fun, and playful works of art. With its super modern space, natural light pours into what I can only describe as a playground of art. With the most eye-catching paintings, bold sculptures dotted around, and mesmerizing 3D wall art, your inner child truly comes alive here. Many visitors will be familiar with Eden Gallery as it has various locations such as New York, Miami, and Greece.
Maddox Gallery is a group of galleries well known internationally. Showcasing the finest modern and contemporary art from many popular artists such as a favorite of mine, Banksy and KAWS. Whether it’s photography to admire or vibrant paintings to marvel at, every month there’s a new and exciting exhibition taking place, making Maddox Gallery somewhere you constantly want to return to.
I adore Galerie Bartoux as it displays many unique and unusual pieces. Even if you’re not in the market for buying art, you’ll be highly tempted in doing so after visiting Galerie Bartoux. Here you’ll find anything and everything from huge masterpieces of painted portraits and striking illustrations to timeless sculptures of frozen luxury brands or safes consisting of luminous mirrors creating a magnificent and endless illusion. Stepping into Galerie Bartoux is like stepping into a fantasy of various imaginations, so very easily, hours can be spent walking around, taking photos, and admiring the fine art.
Located within an incredible Brutalist building in Temple, 180 The Strand is not necessarily a gallery but more of a cultural center instead hosting (in my opinion) the most epic exhibitions in London. 180 The Strand takes art to a different level by bringing together a collection of various pieces and installations and creating a mesmerizing and often virtual world for visitors to get involved in. Much of the art and exhibitions here feature holographic projections, 3D digital work, and sensory experiences all of which create a visit like no other.
Established in 1982, Halcyon Gallery has various locations including New Bond Street in London. The gallery displays wonderful works of art from both emerging and established artists such as Andy Warhol, Stefano Curto, and Bob Dylan. This is a great gallery for collectors who have been following artists for years to those that are unfamiliar but eager to learn more. The staff are super friendly and dedicate time to providing more insight into a specific piece or artist. Visitors are also able to immerse themselves in a range of works, including digital display pieces.
Unlike the other galleries on this list, which consist of collections from various artists, Galerie Orlinski showcases sculptures all by one French artist: Richard Orlinski. With galleries in St. Tropez, Courchevel, Paris, and London, Richard Orlinski’s is highly renowned and pushes through to great heights in the contemporary world of art. His work is a marriage of Pop Art influence and a fascination with animals evident in the beautiful collection of panthers, crocodiles, and more. The playful range of colors, proportions, and shapes make each piece here different from one another but all exciting to admire and appreciate.
Where history meets art, The National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square and is home to over 2,300 masterpiece paintings dating back from the 13th-century to the 19th-century. The National Gallery displays the finest collection of Western European paintings from iconic artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Monet, Titian, Bellini, and so many more. With many rooms all beautifully filled with gorgeous works of art, it’s best to get here early in the day to avoid large crowds.
Whether you’re with the family, friends, on a date, or looking for some solo time—make a day out of exploring all kinds of art by visiting the Tate. The Tate is in fact home to four galleries with nearly 70,000 works. The galleries include Tate Britain located in Millbank, London showcasing British Art from the 16th-century onwards and Tate Modern located in Bankside along the water, which showcases modern contemporary art.
There are always great exhibitions and events going on, all completely different from the last, so whichever Tate gallery you decide to go to in London, there’s going to be a lot to see. I particularly enjoy going to the Tate Modern due to its location. Once you’ve finished taking in as much art as possible, Borough Market is a short walk away and popular for its street food, unique market goods, and an overall great vibe.