London is an art-lovers paradise, but when you’ve only got 24 hours where do you start? Mix some big hitters with the smaller galleries and use the late night events to stretch how much you can see in a day.
As of last year, the Tate Modern doubled in space with its additional tower block style wing, the Boiler House. It’s still the best place in London to catch the big blockbuster modern art exhibitions but there’s more than enough to see in the free permanent collections if you’re short on time or money. This summer catch exhibitions about the effect of Communism on Russian art as well as art in the age of Black Power and the first solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso.Insider tip: There are free daily tours taking in different themes every day. Most start at 11am and last for 45 minutes.
The National Gallery is the largest art gallery in the UK, and in 2014 6.4 million visitors came to see the collection of works from the 13th to the 19th centuries of Western European art. The gallery, which is free to the public, opened in 1838 in the center of London on Trafalgar Square. View important works of Western art here, like ‘The Rokeby Venus’, the only surviving female nude by Velázquez, JMW Turner’s ‘The Fighting Temeraire’, and Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. All in all, the museum holds a collection of more than 2,300 paintings.
Kid Friendly, Accessible (Wheelchair), Family Friendly
Services & Activities:
Guided Tours, Free, Gift Shop
Design Museum, London
Building, Museum, Park, Store
Design Museum | Photo by Alexander Svensson
Now relocated over in Kensington and with a lot more space, the Design Museum has fast become one of London’s most popular museums. This summer, it has the blockbuster exhibition Imagine Moscow which looks into the Russian utopia that was never realised.Insider tip: The top floor holds the museum’s permanent exhibition, which is always free, and once a month it stays open late to 8pm.
The National Portrait Gallery is one of London’s leading art galleries and showcases a vast collection of portraits detailing England’s most historically significant and well-known people. Ever since it became the world’s first portrait gallery in 1856, it has been a key attraction off Trafalgar Square for art and fashion fans alike. The gallery chooses which portraits it features based on the subject’s significance, so with the fashion industry’s growing presence in London and abroad, its stars are taking up more wall space as time goes on.
The Barbican is a world-class arts and learning organisation that encourages guests to discover and exercise their love for the arts amidst London’s flourishing cultural scene. In addition to its cutting-edge experimentation with dance, film, music, theatre and the visual arts, the Barbican’s team also caters to those obsessed with fashion, hosting exhibitions by leading international figures, which often consist of compelling, interactive exhibitions based on the fashion industry’s most notable influencers.
London’s largest gallery dedicated to photography, simply called The Photography Gallery, shouldn’t be missed. It’s bang in the middle of Soho, tucked behind Oxford Street and has exhibitions running of the early work of famous British photographer Martin Parr, the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize and an exhibition inspired by Jaws.Insider tip: The gallery’s bookshop often hosts signings and intimate events with its featured artists and photographers.
Artists don’t just hang out in zone 1 in London. Head south to Peckham to this vibrant, off the wall cafe space in the Bussey Building. There’s theatre, events, music nights and workshops all happening and it’s a great entry into the south London arts scene.
Insider tip: Don’t miss Frank’s Bar on the roof of the Bussey Building, it’s one of south London’s best summer bars.
Discover the graffiti-laden East End of London, with a street art tour that takes in some of the area’s most famous art. Shoreditch Street Art Tours is one of the best and the guys keep up to date with the freshest work. They’ll also teach you about the history of the area through its modern day artists.
Insider tip: The company also host night street art tours for keen photographers.