With such a strong artistic heritage, it’s no surprise that England knocks it out of the park when it comes to world-class art galleries. From classic collections housed in beautiful historic buildings, to contemporary art in the coolest of spaces, these are the 10 galleries across the country you need to add to your must-visit list.
The West Yorkshire city of Wakefield has undergone a recent regeneration, with this stunning gallery at the heart of it all. Named after Barbara Hepworth, the iconic British sculptor who was born in Wakefield in 1903; the gallery brings together work from the city’s art collection, a rolling programme of exhibitions by contemporary artists, as well as some rarely seen works by Hepworth herself. Although it’s a relative newcomer to the English art gallery scene, it’s making serious waves and looks set to cement itself as one of the country’s finest modern art destinations.
Not your standard gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an independent institution, led by artists to promote and encourage not just the appreciation and understanding of art, but its practice. It is world-famous for hosting some exhibitions that get everyone talking, as well as drawing in huge numbers of art-lovers. So much so that they call themselves ‘the original home of the blockbuster’. As well as outstanding temporary exhibitions, the RA’s annual Summer Exhibition is a great way to discover the work of up and coming artists.
Tearing up the rulebook when it comes to how we traditionally view art, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park endeavours to break down barriers by showing work from British and international artists in the open air. Set in hundreds of acres of West Yorkshire parkland, you’ll encounter sculpture by some of the leading artists of the 20th century, including Anthony Caro and Henry Moore, as you walk around the estate. Offering the unique chance to get up close and personal and touch these masterpieces, it’s a great way of getting kids interested in contemporary art.
After a whopping £15 million development, the Whitworth is quickly becoming one of the premier galleries in the North of England. Making full use of its picturesque park setting, the gallery has a beautiful art garden and sculpture terrace, all waiting to be explored. Inside the gallery you can view the permanent collection of 55,000 artworks including pieces by William Blake, Rossetti, Picasso, and Van Gough, as well as an exciting programme of ever-changing exhibitions.