London is a hotspot for art galleries. With a history of famous artists living in and being inspired by the city, it’s no wonder that there are so many scattered across London. One of the most attractive elements of the London tourist scene is that there are so many different galleries that cost nothing at all. From the Tate to the Newport Street Gallery, there is always more to see. Free often implies a striving for inclusivity and accessibility, whatever your financial background, but it does not always mean high quality. Below are some of our favourite galleries in London, their popularity with all ages and tastes a symbol of their quality. Whether admission free or not, these London Galleries in the West End and beyond are well worth your attention.
National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is one of the most popular galleries in the UK, with over 2 million people visiting each year. Part of the reason for this is its ideally central location. Perched on the edge of Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery is also an incredibly accessible art institution, in that even if art is not your thing, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the photographs and portraits of celebrities and national icons. Whether historic or contemporary, there are plenty of great pieces to see here, ranging from medieval kings to present day pop stars.
The Victoria and Albert Museum of Design
The Victoria and Albert museum was opened in 1857 and holds over 2 million objects. With its focus on decorative arts, jewellery and design from across the world, this museum is the largest for decorative arts internationally. Free to visit, this museum is one of the most immersive in the world, full of interactive exhibits spanning a wide range of engaging subjects. This makes the V&A a crowd-pleasing museum and gallery, ticking the boxes for arts lovers and history lovers alike.
The Tate Modern is located inside what was once the Bankside Power Station, making it memorable in its architecture alone. The museum focuses on contemporary, international art, spanning a wide range of mediums and ensuring free entry to many of its exhibitions. With a popular bar and souvenir shop, the Tate Modern is a progressive art museum which pushes the medium forward whilst remaining accessible to all ages.
The National Gallery is another centrally located art museum, making it a perfect visit for guests at the Piccadilly London West End. This museum has a collection of over 23,000 paintings panning from the 13th century to the year 1900. These include works by a range international artists and schools, including J. M. W Turner and Leonardo Da Vinci.
The Saatchi Gallery
This modern and contemporary art gallery in Chelsea is owned by advertising agency owner and entrepreneur Charles Saatchi. Initially opened to display his art collection to the general public, the gallery is now a big hitter on the international art scene and displays many exhibits from working artists from across the world.
Royal Academy of Arts
Founded by King George III in 1768, this art school and exhibition space is used to promote and train contemporary artists and has kept its historically high standing for four centuries. Based in Burlington House, the Royal Academy of Arts is easy to reach from the Piccadilly London West End hotel.