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Agora by Richard Wentworth, painted in aluminium rich paint. Commissioned by Bold Tendencies on the roof of a disused multi-storey car park in Peckham, London, June 2015 | Photo © Quintin Lake
Agora by Richard Wentworth, painted in aluminium rich paint. Commissioned by Bold Tendencies on the roof of a disused multi-storey car park in Peckham, London, June 2015 | Photo © Quintin Lake
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An Art Lover's Guide to South London

Picture of Holly Black
Updated: 12 April 2018
South London has an incredible amount to offer in terms of well-established public museums and grass roots projects showing cutting-edge art. With two world-class art colleges to its name, it continues to stand out as a creative alternative to the tourist traps found on the other side of the river. The Culture Trip have rounded up some of the best spots to explore.

Must-visit museums

South London Gallery

Located next to Camberwell College of Arts, the sizeable South London Gallery was founded 125 years ago. It is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary art, with a busy schedule of events and screenings alongside the main exhibition programme as well as supporting artist residencies.

Insider Tip: The gallery has recently commissioned a brand new garden designed by artist Gabriel Orozco, in collaboration with 6a architects. Head down to the gallery at the weekend to enjoy this sculptural intervention.

65-67 Peckham Rd, London SE5 8UH

The Gabriel Orozco Garden at the South London Gallery
The Gabriel Orozco Garden at the South London Gallery | Courtesy South London Gallery

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Sir Francis Bourgeois built the world’s first ever purpose-built public art gallery in 1811 in order to house his personal collection. He asked legendary architect Sir John Soane to design it, which accounts for the powerful use of natural light and nods to classical architecture. The gallery holds an impressive selection of Old Masters, particularly Baroque works, counting Rembrandt, Poussin, Gainsborough, Canaletto and Rubens among its collection. Its innovative temporary programme has also reassessed the important contribution of painters such as Vanessa Bell and Nikolai Astrup.

Insider tip: To celebrate the gallery’s 200th anniversary the first-ever Dulwich Pavilion has been erected. Check the website for a full programme of events, performances and late night activities, which continue until October.

Gallery Rd, Southwark SE21 7AD

Friday Lates at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Friday Lates at Dulwich Picture Gallery | Courtesy Dulwich Picture Gallery

Horniman Museum and Gardens

Philanthropist and collector Frederick John Horniman founded this museum of natural history in Forest Hill, formally opening in 1901. It contains artefacts from throughout the world, from taxidermy to carvings, and even has its own aquarium. One of the most unusual objects is a ‘merman’ that puzzled visitors for centuries. 3D scanning has since revealed that this mythological creation was an assemblage of fish parts, wood and papier mache.

Insider tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to take a selfie with the Horniman walrus, the most famous and beloved item in the collection.

100 London Rd, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ

The Horniman’s Famous Walrus
The Horniman’s Famous Walrus | Courtesy Horniman Museum and Gardens

Must-visit galleries

Bosse and Baum

Located in the Bussey Building Bosse and Baum is part of a new generation of young contemporary galleries making their mark in Peckham. The space is run by curatorial duo Lana Bountakidou and Alexandra Warder and offers international London-based artists a chance to exhibit, as well as additional studio space.

BGC, Bussey, 133 Rye Ln, London SE15 4ST

The Sunday Painter

As it leaves its previous home in Peckham, The Sunday Painter will be re-imagining the landscape of Vauxhall beginning this autumn, giving the area a new, contemporary art push. Camberwell art graduates Will Jarvis, Harry Scoging Beer and Grace Schofield founded the gallery and have been causing a stir at art fairs across the world ever since.

12-16 Blenheim Grove, Peckham, London SE15 4QL

Hannah Barry

Arguably the leading light in London’s young gallerist scene, Hannah Barry has been making waves since she founded her eponymous space a decade ago. She had previously been running curatorial projects out of the flat she shared with a group of artists in Peckham. Her relatively new space in Holly Grove has truly put the area on the map, but Barry’s most impressive legacy is surely Bold Tendencies. This impressive summer programme takes places on the top of a multi-storey car park, with site-specific commissions from new and established artists, as well as events, interventions and even the odd orchestral performance. After you’re done with all that culture, you can head to Frank’s café (also on the rooftop) which has grown from an enterprising few deck chairs and a few cans of Kronenburg to one of the area’s hottest summer party destinations, with a bar designed by Practice Architecture.

4 Holly Grove, London SE15 5DF

Agora by Richard Wentworth, painted in aluminium rich paint. Commissioned by Bold Tendencies on the roof of a disused multi-storey car park in Peckham, London, June 2015
Agora by Richard Wentworth, painted in aluminium rich paint. Commissioned by Bold Tendencies on the roof of a disused multi-storey car park in Peckham, London, June 2015 | Photo © Quintin Lake

Goldsmiths Gallery

The newest addition to Goldsmiths college’s campus will consist of a huge gallery that inhabits former Grade-II Listed Victorian baths and disused water tanks, designed by Turner Prize-winning collective Assemble. The Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art will be fully accessible and open to the public, showing internationally recognised artists alongside emerging talent. It is due to open its doors in May 2018.

8 Lewisham Way, New Cross, London SE14 6NW

Take a tour through maritime history

The Old Royal Naval College offers an incredible tour of its painted ceiling – the largest of its kind in Britain. This beautiful Baroque masterpiece was painted between 1707 and 1726 and features the accessions to the throne of William III and Mary II in 1688 and George I in 1714, as well as the multiple maritime victories and trading successes of the period. The tour takes place on a special 60-foot-high observation deck, giving visitors a chance to get up close and personal with over 200 painted figures.

King William Walk, Greenwich SE10 9NN

The Old Royal Naval College Ceiling Tour
The Old Royal Naval College Ceiling Tour | Photo © The Old Royal Naval College