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Hattie Lloyd 14/05/24


What's On At London's Best Art Galleries

We don’t often visit art galleries.

They always tell us off for taking pictures.

Nevertheless, London is awash with art – and so we’ve put together a running list of all the major (and quite a few independent) art galleries in London, complete with opening hours and the run-down on the exhibitions to see now:

 


JUMP TO: CENTRAL | NORTH | SOUTH | EAST | WEST


CENTRAL LONDON ART GALLERIES

180 Studios | Strand

Set in the concrete subterranean labyrinth of an iconic Brutalist building, 180 Studios is building a name for itself as the home for innovative, large-scale, tech-infused audio-visual art installations.

WHAT’S ON

Currently closed for exhibition installation. The Vinyl Factory – REVERB opens 22nd May.

Address: 180 Studios, 180 The Strand, WC2R 1EA | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-7pm | EntryExhibitions ticketed individually, from £10-25

Centre for British Photography | St James’s

This new gallery is pretty flash – sitting on Jermyn Street, it’s the first art gallery in London to focus entirely on British photography (which seems kind of surprising). The exhibitions here are always populated from the Centre’s own archives, and set out to explore the vast range of photographic art produced across the nation since 1900.

WHAT’S ON

Currently closed for exhibition installation.

Address: 49 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6LX | Opening Hours: Wed-Fri, 11am-6pm, weekends 11am-4pm | EntryFree

The Courtauld Gallery | Strand

courtauld gallery london

Back open after the biggest refurbishment in its history, the Courtauld has an incredible collection of art particularly known for its trove of Impressionist paintings including Manet’s A Bar at the Folies Bergère and Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. The permanent collection could keep you occupied for hours, but the gallery often plays host to visiting exhibitions, too.

WHAT’S ON

Frank Auerbach: The Charcoal Heads (until 27th May) – a haunting collection of large scale portrait sketches, which the artist worked and reworked during the early years of his career in postwar London.

Address: Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm (last entry 5.15pm) | Entry: Permanent collection £12, exhibitions £13+

Hayward Gallery | South Bank

Hayward Gallery London

A Brutalist and, quite frankly, brutal concrete metropolis is home to the Hayward Gallery; an exhibition space designed to receive touring work and host major modern collections. Sat within the cultural playground that is the Southbank Centre, it normally holds three to four temporary exhibitions a year and due to the sheer size of the space, they’re often huge installations that allow for lots of audience interaction. Retrospectives are also popular, with German photographer Andreas Gursky and our very own Bridget Riley showing off their illustrious careers here.

WHAT’S ON

Currently closed until Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere opens on 18th June.

Address: Southbank Centre, 337-338 Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | Opening Hours: Wed-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-8pm, Sundays 10am-6pm | Entry: £18+

ICA | St James

The errant, wayward child of the RA, the ICA was established as a space for artists and scientists to discuss ideas freely and without limitation. An avid promoter of the avant-garde, it’s been an epicentre of experimental work ever since. With galleries, a theatre, and two cinemas you’re bound to find something, in some medium, that suits your fancy.

WHAT’S ON

Rheim Alkadhi: Templates for Liberation opens 11th June.

Check out screenings, talks and more HERE

Address: The Mall, St James’s, SW1Y 5AH | Opening Hours: Tue-Thurs 4-9pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-9pm | Entry: £5

National Gallery | Trafalgar Square

National Gallery

Pride of place in London’s art scene, presiding over the four lions of Trafalgar Square, is the National Gallery. Amongst the most visited art museums in the world, the National Gallery has a premier league roll call of great works amongst the 2,300 paintings in its possession. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire and Da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks all adorn its walls. Most major Western artists are represented in some way or another here, making it an absolute mecca for Art History bingo.

WHAT’S ON

The Last Caravaggio (until 21st July, free) – This is an exhibition with just two paintings. But one of them is Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, believed to be the final artwork from the Italian master of light. It’s come here all the way from Naples, and if you visit you’ll soon see why it’s been granted such a stately reception.

Address: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm (9pm Fridays) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £20

National Portrait Gallery | Trafalgar Square

national portrait gallery

David Parry

The National Portrait Gallery is back and better than ever, which isn’t too surprising considering the refurb cost £35 million and includes a new wing, a café and a late night cocktail bar. Of course in saying all that, the main attraction is still the portraits; showcasing famous Brits in painting, photo and sculpture form.

WHAT’S ON

Francesca Woodman & Julia Margaret Cameron: Portraits to Dream in (until 6th June, £8.50+)Julia Margaret Cameron & Francesca Woodman may have been separated by thousands of miles and almost a century, but their ethereal photographs remain quite uncannily similar in both their influence and their form.

Details: St Martin’s Place, Charing Cross, WC2H 0HE | Opening hours: Daily 10.30am-6pm (open until 9pm Friday & Saturday) | Entry: Main collection free, exhibitions £22+ or £5 for U25s, Fri-Sun

The Photographers’ Gallery | Soho

soho photography quarter

Christian Thompson

After snapping up a tea bar in Covent Garden, founder and director Sue Davies quickly developed the space into the UK’s first dedicated space for photography and photographers. The gallery’s now moved into an old textiles factory in Soho, but continues to act as a centre of excellence for, and research into the 20th century’s iconic medium, with plenty of wonderful camera work to admire over its six floors. Check out the Soho Photography Quarter outside, an old alleyway that’s been revamped as a kind of al fresco gallery space.

WHAT’S ON

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2024 (until 2nd June) – The title may not be snappy, but the work certainly is: see the shortlisted images from international artists VALIE EXPORT, Gauri Gill & Rajesh Vangad, Lebohang Kganye and Hrair Sarkissian.

Bert Hardy: Photojournalism in War and Peace (until 2nd June) – Hardy had quite the career, going from self-taught sports photographer to documenting combat in WWII, becoming a famed press photographer for Picture Post magazine, and capturing everyday people and families across Britain for his later social commentary work. Basically, there’s a lot here, and it’s all very precious.

Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, W1F 7LW | Opening Hours: Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-6pm | Entry: £5 (entry to all exhibitions), free Fridays from 5pm

The King’s Gallery | St James

Once an exclusively royal affair but these days awash with the unwashed, the King’s Gallery is the dictionary definition of a fine art gallery – “a place that houses work created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes”. The collection is, unsurprisingly, fit for a king and contains a revolving exhibit of works owned by the royals to ensure their protection for, and presumably from, the Great British public.

WHAT’S ON

Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography (until 6th October, £19) – More than 150 prints are on show at this highly glamorous exhibition, with portraits going back as far as the 1920s. There are Cecil Beaton’s beautiful, Vogue-style shoots of the Queen Mother as a young woman; intimate snaps of Princess Margaret through the lens of her future husband, the Earl of Snowdon; Andy Warhol’s iconic pop art screen print of Queen Elizabeth; and more relaxed shots of the current King & Queen at home (so yes, in the palace).

Address: Buckingham Palace, Buckingham Palace Road, SW1A 1AA | Opening Hours: Thurs-Mon, 10am-5.30pm | Entry: £19

Royal Academy | Piccadilly

royal academy art gallery

Perhaps in a moment of his famed “madness”, King George III dipped into his own pocket to establish the RA in order to raise the professional status of artists and foster a national school of art. Off his rocker or not, it proved a big success (alumni include Turner, Kauffman, Constable et al.), and the RA lives on to this day as a privately funded institution training, and promoting, artists and art appreciation. The gallery has moved with the ebbs and flows of artistic taste, and its annual open-call summer exhibition showcases the best new art on the scene.

WHAT’S ON

Angelica Kauffmann (until 30th June, £17) – A solo show celebrating one of the few well-known female artists from the 18th century, who was sought after for her ‘celebrity’ portraits and female-focussed scenes from classical history.

Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 0BD | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun, 10am-6pm (9pm Fri) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from ~£15

Somerset House | Strand

Best Things To Do in Covent Garden: Somerset House

Kevin Meredith

Originally the Tudor crib to end all cribs, this imposing residence on the river Thames became a Stuart royal palace, a brief home of the Royal Academy, and now holds the offices of over a hundred creative organisations and artists, alongside numerous exhibition spaces for a range of different media. The Duke of Somerset, despite being executed before it was completed, would no doubt lose his head over how brilliant it’s become.

WHAT’S ON

The Lore of Loverboy opens 8th June.

Address: Strand, WC2R 1LA | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm | Entry: Free/£15+ for exhibitions

Tate Britain | Pimlico

tate britain

The epicurean, slightly dotty uncle of the Tate Modern is concerned with one thing only – old Blighty (and the artists who come from within it). A national treasure full of national treasures, expect to see all the big names from 1500 to the present day –Turner, Constable, Bacon, Blake, and Emin – and there’s even a series of exhibitions titled Art Now that shines a light on our stars of tomorrow.

WHAT’S ON

Zeinab Saleh (until 23rd June, free) – A free display of the artist’s wistful pastel drawings & paintings, which hint at stories beyond the scene.

Sargent and Fashion (until 7th July 2024, £22) – A divisive exhibition, with critics split as to whether Sargent was a superficial sycophant or a narrative genius whose figurative work is undersold as a mere catwalk in this show. But frankly, everyone could do with some escapism in the form of lovely art and fancy frocks once in a while.

Now You See Us  (until 13th October, £20) – If you were asked to name a famous artist in the Western canon from the 19th century or earlier, it’s likely you’d think of at least 20 male names before coming up with a female one. Tate Britain’s latest exhibition sets out to put historic women artists into the spotlight, from Royal Academy founder Angelica Kauffman to 17th century portraitist Mary Beale.

Address: Millbank, SW1P 4RG | Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £16

Tate Modern | Bankside

Some people think modern art is just a load of Pollocks. And they’d be right. But he’s not the only artist you’ll find in this behemoth of modern and contemporary works. Tate Modern holds the British collection of pieces from 1900 to the present day, and is one of the largest modern art museums in the world. Housed within the old Bankside power station, it has become an iconic landmark on the Thames’ riverscape. Pieces from Picasso, Dali and Matisse lead the permanent line-up, while the old turbine hall dwarfs its visitors and holds specially commissioned, larger-than-life exhibits.

WHAT’S ON

Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and The Blue Rider (until 20th October, £22) – The Tate’s critically acclaimed new exhibition brings together 130 or so masterpieces from the expressionist movement that swept the Western art world in the early 20th century, telling the colourful story of the revolutionary group of friends who set out to transform modern art.

Yoko Ono: Music Of The Mind (until 1st September, £22) – For some people, putting the words ‘Yoko Ono’ and ‘music’ in the same sentence is not a pleasant notion. But the fact is that she’s responsible for some hugely impactful artwork over the decades (seven now), and the Tate has assembled over 200 of them – more than we’ve ever seen in the UK before.

Address: Bankside, SE1 9TG | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £22

Wallace Collection | Marylebone

wallace collection london art gallery

A collecting hobby that got a little out of hand is now a major collection of 18th and 19th century works collected by subsequent Marquesses of Hertford, and bequeathed to the public. Housed within an imposing regency townhouse, the Wallace is famed for its triumphant collection of French decorative arts; the grandest one outside of Gaul. It’s a fancy family’s fancy private collection, so expect gilded frames, suits of armour, and offensive levels of wealth to dominate your surroundings on your sojourn through the wings.

WHAT’S ON

Ranjit Singh: Sikh, Warrior, King (until 20th October, £16) – Learn the story of the Maharaja who established the flourishing Sikh Empire of the 19th century, through over 100 exquisite objects including jewellery, armour and courtly treasures.

Address: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN | Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free / £14 for exhibitions

NORTH LONDON ART GALLERIES

Camden Art Centre | Hampstead

al fresco music gig london

What began as a local Arts scheme providing the Hampstead community with classes in everything from painting to pottery, has grown, over the past 50 years, into an internationally acclaimed centre for the arts. Housed on the leafier side of Finchley this enclave of ever rotating, multi disciplinary artistry favours edgy, young contemporary artists and has a bookshop, cafe, and garden to boot.

WHAT’S ON

The Bough Breaks (until 23rd June) – A collection of atmospheric paintings by the Bradford-born artist Matthew Krishanu, drawing on sources from personal memories to Ajanta cave paintings for inspiration.

Animals To Remember Uganda (until 23rd June) – A solo exhibition and site-specific commission for former Camden Art Centre resident Andrew Omoding, who has created artwork from found objects, music and video to reference his childhood in Uganda.

Address: Arkwright Road, London NW3 6DG | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-6pm, late opening Thursday until 9pm | Entry: Free

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art | Islington

The frontage exudes the class and posture of Georgian England, but step inside and you’ll tumble down into the kaleidoscopic world of Italian Futurist Art. Futurism was one of Italy’s most significant contributions to the 20th century and this museum is Britain’s only one dedicated to the movement. Expect sculptures, paintings, landscapes, and the downright bizarre – all from a young nation looking to find la dolce vita.

WHAT’S ON

Sergio Strizzi: The Perfect Moment (until 8th September) – Starting out as a photojournalist, it was a job capturing the dynamism of football matches for a film that kickstarted Strizzi’s long-spanning career as one of cinema’s most sought-after stills photographers. He worked on the sets of Bond films, captured stars like Alain Delon and Monica Vitti on-set, and was commissioned for portrait shoots by the likes of Audrey Hepburn. The 80 photographs on show here make for an evocative journey into some of cinema’s most iconic scenes, while pulling back the veil for a glimpse at film sets in action.

Address: 39A Canonbury Square, N1 2AN | Opening Hours: Wed-Sat 11am-6pm (8pm Thurs), Sun 12pm-5pm | Entry: £7.50/£5.50 (Concession)

Victoria Miro | Islington

Representing 40 established and emerging artists, Victoria Miro is one of the largest commercial art galleries in London – and a great place to wile away the afternoon pretending you can afford to buy even one item. The Wharf Road gallery is a converted furniture factory and now houses Grayson Perry’s 15m Walthamstow Tapestry amongst numerous other works including the garden itself, landscaped specifically for the gallery.

WHAT’S ON

Boscoe Holder | Geoffrey Holder (opens 1st June) – Somewhat amazingly, this will be the first time the two Trinidad-born brothers’ paintings will be exhibited in tandem. The pair had insane amounts of talent between them, and were also known for their work in choreography, music and performance (Geoffrey played Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die, Boscoe is credited with bringing both limbo dancing and steel pan playing to the UK). They both viewed painting as intrinsic to their wider artistic practice, and an afternoon spent here will quickly convince you that they could have each easily made an entire career in the visual arts alone…

Address: 16 Wharf Road, N1 7RW | Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm | Entry: Free

William Morris Gallery | Walthamstow

William Morris Gallery

The original hipster, Morris eschewed Victorian trends in favour of more “retro” Medieval vibes – before going on to propagate the socialist movement in Britain and then sow the seeds of fantasy literature by translating Icelandic epic poetry. His life was as intricate and interconnected as his infamous wallpaper designs, and this delightful museum celebrates every facet of his fascinating existence. Plus, there are haggis toasties in the café.

WHAT’S ON

Art Without Heroes: Mingei (until 22nd September, free) – An exploration of the Japanese folk craft movement which took off in the 1920s and 30s, mirroring the British Arts and Crafts style which evolved in reaction to rapid industrialisation.

Address: Lloyd Park, Forest Road, E17 4PP | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: Free

 

SOUTH LONDON ART GALLERIES

Dulwich Picture Gallery | Dulwich

dulwich picture gallery

Do the names Rembrandt and Rubens get your blood racing? Does stroking your chin over classic art make you feel peckish? Then you’re probably gonna like what’s on offer at England’s oldest public gallery. Expect Dutch paintings of cows on bridges, splendid nudity in reenactments of Greco Roman mythology, and a handful of Italian masters. There’s also a variety of more modern-ish temporary exhibitions, if you’ve seen enough classical buttocks for one day. As for the food part: check out the alfresco cafe doing all-day brunch.

WHAT’S ON

Soulscapes (until 2nd June, £17.50) – The word ‘landscapes’ typically evokes visions of endless rolling hills, stoic castles, and scenes so dry it’s no surprise the paint is cracking. Not here. In Soulscapes, the Dulwich Picture Gallery is showcasing 30 inspiring works by artists from the African diaspora, across several media (painting, photography, textile, etc) from the likes of Issac Julien and Michael Armitage.

Address: Gallery Road, SE21 7AD | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm | Entry: £16.50

Fashion & Textile Museum | Bermondsey

A Bermondsey Street treasure specialising in contemporary fashion design, founded by the legendary Dame Zandra Rhodes. Rather than housing a permanent collection, they stage exhibitions on particular designers, printmakers, or fashion periods and trends, gathering items from around the globe.

WHAT’S ON

The Biba Story (until 8th September 2024, £12.65) – A glorious archive of clothing, films, photographs and pieces collected by the founder of this legendary 60s & 70s fashion & lifestyle brand, Barbara Hulanicki.

Address: 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 11am-6pm | Entry: £12.65

Newport Street Gallery | Vauxhall

Formaldehyde-bathed bovines and spin-painted pictures, sharks sliced in half, and a golden-hooved calf, mountains of artwork all tied up with string, these are a few of Damien Hirst’s favourite things. As one of the richest living artists and most enthusiastic collectors, Hirst is no stranger to the contemporary scene and his personal collection, on show at the Newport Street Gallery, contains over 3,000 works from Bacon, Banksy, Emin and even Picasso.

WHAT’S ON

Currently closed, upcoming exhibition TBA.

Address: Newport Street, SE11 6AJ | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free

NOW Gallery | Greenwich

NOW Gallery is, unsurprisingly, all about cutting-edge, contemporary art; but it’s also art that’s accessible and unpretentious, often taking the form of large-scale, walk-through installations. Commissioned artists are often up-and-coming and from a blend of creative backgrounds – art, fashion and design – with the kinds of ideas that not only spark conversation but plenty of social media opps too.

WHAT’S ON

Like A Melody: Myths, Memories and Fantasy, Charlotte Mei (until 2nd June, free) – See the gallery transformed into a fantasy realm heavily influenced by anime and childhood imagination, with giant sculptures, ‘excavated’ artefacts, and sweeping dreamscapes providing a fantastical backdrop.

Address: The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0SQ |  Opening Hours: Tues-Fri, 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-4pm | Entry: Free

South London Gallery | Peckham

South London Gallery

Camberwell’s contemporary art gallery has always been at the forefront of the South London art scene. Originally the gallery of a local working men’s college, it has always sought to celebrate current artists. That trend continued and, in 1995, it was the first venue to showcase Emin’s infamous “tent”. Now spread across two listed buildings, the SLG houses a number of permanent exhibits with revolving temporary installations.

WHAT’S ON

Acts of Resistance: Photography, Feminisms and the Art of Protest (until 9th June, free) – an exhibition curated in collaboration with the V&A, exploring how photography has been used to document and propel social movements across the globe, especially for issues affecting women.

Motunrayo Akinola: Knees Kiss Ground (until 9th June, free) – the gallery’s 13th post-graduate artist in residence showcases installations and artworks crafted from everyday materials, exploring ideas like faith, nostalgia and ownership.

See talks, workshops and screenings HERE.

Address: 65-67 Peckham Road, SE5 8UH | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-6pm (9pm Weds) | Entry: Free

White Cube Bermondsey & Mason’s Yard | Bermondsey & St James

Bloomsbury Street Guide: White Cube

Europe’s biggest commercial gallery has come under its fair share of criticism. Owned and run by an old Etonian and known for displaying works in a cold and clinical manner, it’s easy to see why. But representing the likes of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, you can guarantee that the stars of British contemporary art will shine bright on any visit. The whitewashed walls, and strip lighting, can make it feel like a bit like a trip to the hospital, but this institution of the ever-fractious art scene is well worth a wander.

WHAT’S ON

Mason’s Yard | Danica Lundy: Boombox (until 29th June, free) – Colossal, grungy, surrealist painting from the New York artist whose ‘panoptical’ canvasses feature a vortex of people and places across different perspectives and scales.

Bermondsey | Georg Baselitz: A Confession of My Sins (until 16th June, free) – New work produced in the past year mingles with early-career sketches by the 86 year-old painter, who considers himself to be a very different artist now.

Address: 144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ | 25-26 Mason’s Yard, SW1Y 6BU | Opening Hours: Tues-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12-6pm/MY: Thurs-Sat, 10am-6pm | Entry: Free

 

EAST / THE CITY GALLERIES

The Barbican | Barbican

Barbican Centre art galleries London

One of the city’s Brutalist icons, the Barbican isn’t just home to theatre, cinemas, concert halls (and an unexpected urban jungle, the Barbican Conservatory). It also boasts a two-storey gallery space that has hosted exhibitions on everything from AI to Japanese architecture, and a retrospective of the pioneering street artist Basquiat.

WHAT’S ON

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art (until 26th May, £18 ) – an acclaimed group show bound by the artists’ chosen material: fabric. In both large scale sculptures and modest, hand-crafted pieces it’s a tool to explore repression, resilience and reformation.

Address: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | Opening Hours: Sat-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs-Fri 10am-8pm | Entry: Free/Exhibitions from £18 – pay what you can on Thursday evenings, 5-8pm

Guildhall Art Gallery | The City

Guildhall Art Gallery

Established in 1886 as ‘a collection of art treasures worthy of the capital city’, the Guildhall Gallery is exactly that – a sumptuous assembly of art that you’d expect the captains of industry from centuries past to have amassed. Big sexy frames, portraits of gentlemen with enormous wigs, and an impressive number of Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces are the mainstay of their throng which seeks to show off in telling the story of London town.

WHAT’S ON

Anne Desmet: Kaleidoscope/London (until 8th September, pay what you can) – see the city through a new lens: artist Anne Desmet has revisited her early lino cuts, sketches and wood engravings to create fragmented, mosaic-like digital collages of the London skyline.

Address: Guildhall Yard, EC2V 5AE | Opening Hours: Daily 10.30am-4pm | Entry: Free/exhibitions from £10

Whitechapel Gallery | Whitechapel

Whitechapel Gallery Brick Lane

Founded in 1901, this gallery set out to give great art to the masses. Since then it’s had some pretty impressive mates round for tea: Picasso’s Guernica popped by; Pollock, Hockney, and Lucian Freud all logged stays. It hasn’t lost any of its mojo from following expansion in 2009 where it doubled in size; Theaster Gates and Mark Dion are just a few of the famous to have dropped by in recent years. Come hungry – Townsend is well-worth a post-exhibition trip.

WHAT’S ON

Andrew Pierre Hart: Bio-Data Flows and Other Rhythms – A Local Story (until 7th July, free) – If anything, describing Hart as an ‘interdisciplinary artist’ seems like underselling him: for this new commission he’s created a sound composition, a short film, six new oil paintings, a site-specific mural and a bamboo sculpture.

Address: 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX | Opening Hours: Tue-Sun 11am-6pm, 9pm Thursdays | Entry: Free/ Exhibitions from £9.50

 

WEST LONDON ART GALLERIES

Design Museum | Kensington

design museum

The Design Museum is, as you’d expect, very well put together. In the bustling cultural quarter of Kensington, its three floors and two basements serve up permanent exhibitions, learning centres, glass-walled design studios and temporary gallery spaces. The permanent gallery is the only one in the UK to be dedicated completely to contemporary design.

WHAT’S ON

Skateboard (until 2nd June 2024, £16+) – Since its first boom period in the 1950s, skateboarding has really kicked off. Here you’ll see how boards have grown out of their homemade-in-the-garage early days to the high-tech performance models you get today, keeping pace with what’s become a multibillion dollar industry and now a legitimate sport.

Address: 224-238 Kensington High Street, W8 6AG | Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri-Sun 10am-6pm (9pm Sat) | Entry: Free/~£16 temporary exhibitions

Graffik Gallery | Ladbroke Grove

Street art off the street is the focus of this gritty and urban gallery. Derived from the Italian to scratch, this ancient form of expression has taken on a new lease of life in our modern times. This collection gives you a vast overview of the city’s strongest pieces – without ever making you step outside. Unless, of course, you want to try your hand at one of their graffiti workshops…

WHAT’S ON: Main collection only.

Address: 284 Portobello Road, W10 5TE | Opening Hours: Daily 11am-6pm | Entry: Free

Leighton House Museum and Art Gallery | Holland Park

leighton house

©Leighton-House/RBKC. Image courtesy of Will Pryce

When a noted painter and lord of the realm commissions you to design his house, you’d better bring your A-game. Well, George Aitchison did just that and his creation is now a Grade II listed building, widely revered for its Orientalist and aesthetic interiors – and the home of the Leighton House Museum. The permanent gallery, predictably, contains numerous works from Lord Leighton himself; so expect to cast your eye over lavish oil panoramas of Greek myths, lords and ladies, and ecclesiastical scenes.

WHAT’S ON

Out Shopping: The Dresses of Marion and Maud Sambourne (until 20th October 2024, included with entry) – swoon over the turn-of-the-century dresses worn by the wife and daughter of Punch cartoonist Linley Sambourne, many of which were designed by women and signal the changing fashions and politics of early 20th century London.

Address: 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ | Opening Hours: Wed-Mon 10am-5:30pm | Entry: £11

Saatchi Gallery | Chelsea

A controversial centre headed by a controversial curator, the Saatchi Gallery has always sought to challenge. Its guiding principle has always been to operate as the quirkier B-side to places like the Tate Modern – so expect to find new and unknown works from artists all hoping to be the Hockney of tomorrow.

WHAT’S ON

Tom De Houwer: Nature’s Bounty (23rd May – 3rd June, free) – a fleeting installation, by virtue of the fact it’ll feature fresh flowers and autumn leaves cascading from the ceiling over an 8m long banqueting table.

Metamorphosis (24th May – 28th July, free) – eco-conscious film & photography from four award-winning artists, including photographic prints literally made from soil and algae.

Beyond Fashion opens 31st May.

Address: Duke of York’s HQ, Kings Road, SW3 4RY | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm | Entry: Free/Exhibitions from £10

Serpentine Galleries | Kensington

A gallery double-act tucked away in Kensington Gardens mainly dabbling in the modern, avant-garde side of art. Come here for the daring contemporary stuff and to marvel at the temporary outdoor pavilion, designed by a different world-renowned artist each summer.

WHAT’S ON

Suspended States (until 1st September, free) – this highly anticipated exhibition is the first solo London show from artist Yinka Shonibare CBE in over 20 years. Expect large-scale installations, quilts, sculptures and more, all probing Britain’s colonial history and the influence of African art on global culture.

Address: Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA | Opening Hours: Tues-Sun 10am-6pm | Entry: Free

V&A | South Kensington

V&A Museum best museums in London

Like the Queen whose name it bears, the Victoria & Albert is imposing, vast, and spans decades. With 145 galleries and over 5,000 years of art in its free permanent collection, it really is an encyclopaedia of design. Since its inception in 1852, the museum has always adopted a policy of “wide art”; attempting to inspire, dazzle, and entertain with its eclectic collection. Today is no different and you can travel the world and back without ever leaving the building (except to look at the courtyard).

WHAT’S ON

Tropical Modernism (until 22nd September, £14) – Explore the history of this retro architectural style from the 1940s-80s, rooted in the quest to create buildings that are both modern and responsive to the unique environmental challenges and cultural contexts of the tropics.

Address: Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL | Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5.45pm (10pm Fridays) | Entry: Free / Exhibitions from £12

 


Looking for more inspiration? Take a peek at our 101 London Date Ideas