Free London Galleries

 
 
 
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Saatchi Gallery

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Saatchi Gallery
National Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
Serpentine Gallery
Tate Britain
Tate Modern
Wallace Collection
White Cube Hoxton Square
Whitechapel Gallery
Saatchi Gallery
Tate Modern: The Tanks
White Cube Bermondsey
Newport Street Gallery
 

 

Nearly all of London's major public galleries are completely free so you know you're not compromising on quality by choosing the cheaper option. Lots offer free talks and tours if you time your visit cleverly. Some special exhibitions do attract an admission fee but there's more than enough in each gallery to keep you well and truly absorbed without having to pay to visit these.

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Saatchi Gallery

Charles Saatchi's relocated gallery champions younger artists and is still free to all

Duke of York's Square, King's Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4SQ

Tube: Sloane Square Station

 
 

The Saatchi Gallery re-opened on 9th October 2008 in the former military barracks of the Duke of York's Headquarters. The 70,000 square feet represents a significantly larger space than its previous 40,000 occupancy at County Hall. Ousted from the Southbank site in 2005, the re-location of the gallery had long been speculated upon and hotly anticipated. The former ad man Charles Saatchi made the transition to the art world in the 1990s, championing young artists and buying in bulk the works of Young British Artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. In keeping with this trait, the gallery includes a dedicated space for emerging artists from the Saatchi Online website.

 
 
 

National Gallery

This art collection belongs to the British public and is free to visit

Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London, WC2N 5DN

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Covent Garden Station

 
 

The National Gallery dominates over London's Trafalgar Square as it dominates all other galleries in the city in terms of world renown. Some of the finest examples of European art, ranging from 1260 to 1900, are included among the 2300 paintings filling its halls and rooms. Holbein's 'The Ambassadors', 'The Hay Wain' by Constable, and Jan Van Eyck's 'Arnolfini Marriage' are just some of the major attractions. Works on display also include those of Botticelli, Monet, Constable, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. This really is the place to come for top quality artwork spanning a wide spectrum of styles and periods. From the Early Renaissance to the Post-Impressionists, every significant stage in the development of painting is represented in its collection, often by masterpieces. Originally established by Parliament in 1824, the collection belongs to the British public and every effort is made to encourage the public to visit, view and experience the art: free entry, free events, free talks and free tours support this ethos of encouragement and enthusiasm. Regular weekend activities include: guided tours at 11.30am, 2.30pm with extra tours at 12.30pm and 3.30pm on Saturdays, lunchtime talks on Saturdays at 1am, and Art Through Words sessions for visitors with a visual impairment at 11.30am on the last Saturday of the month.

 
 

Events at National Gallery

Titian: Love, Desire, Death Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

16th March to 14th June 2020 | £8-£12

 
Titian: Love, Desire, Death National Gallery 2020-03-162020-06-14 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age OngoingFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

22nd February to 31st May 2020 | Free

 
Nicolaes Maes: Dutch Master of the Golden Age National Gallery 2020-02-222020-05-31 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
POSTPONED: Artemisia Gentileschi Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

4th April to 26th July 2020 | £16-£20

 
POSTPONED: Artemisia Gentileschi National Gallery 2020-04-042020-07-26 Where:
National Gallery, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 5DN
Category: Art Galleries
All events at National Gallery
 
 
 

National Portrait Gallery

10,000 portraits of everyone from statesmen to showbiz stars

St Martin's Place, London, WC2H 0HE

Tube: Leicester Square Station , Charing Cross Station, Piccadilly Circus Station, Embankment Underground Station, Covent Garden Station

 
 

This isn't the place to come for serious works of exceptional artistic merit - the overriding aim of the National Portrait Gallery is to reflect the status of the sitter, not the artist - but where else in London could you hope to find The Beatles, Henry VIII, Sir Richard Branson and JK Rowling all hanging out together? The appeal of this gallery (opened in 1856) rests simply in its comprehensive commemoration of British history from the late 15th century to the present day through the medium of portraiture. The sense of progression and the feeling of familiarity with many subjects are what make the gallery so appealing. Having said that, critically acclaimed self-portraits by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds and other notable British artists are also displayed alongside the 10,000 portraits of everyone from statesmen to showbiz stars and media barons. The collection represents Britain and is arranged thematically, starting with the Tudors and ending with present day politicians and pop stars. Look out for the only surviving portrait of Shakespeare taken from life in The Ondaajte Wing, the Hans Holbein cartoon of Henry VIII, the anamorphic portrait of Edward VI, and the sculpture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in medieval costume. Photographs, caricatures, drawings and sculpture are included in the collection which also boasts 250,000 archived images. The National Portrait Gallery also hosts the annual Portrait Prize competition alongside ever-changing collections of contemporary work.

 
 
 

Newport Street Gallery

Damien Hirst's gallery won the Riba Stirling Prize, the UK's leading architecture award.

Newport Street, Lambeth, London, SE11 6AY

Tube: Lambeth North Station

 
 

Damien Hirst's Newport Street Gallery has been built to bring his collection of over 2,000 artworks out of storage and on display to the public. Taking up the whole length of the Vauxhall street, the gallery - a combination of three listed buildings flanked by new buildings at either end - was designed by Caruso St John, the archtects behind the 45 million masterplan for Tate Britain's 2013 facelift. It's really six spaces in one which can used in different combinations to show Hirst's private collection - which includes pieces by Francis Bacon, Jeff Koons and British artists Sarah Lucas and Banksy - in small or very large exhibitions. "It's my Saatchi gallery, basically," he told the Observer in a 2012 interview. "It's a place to show my collection of contemporary art. It feels bad having it all in crates."

 
 
 

Photographers' Gallery

Britain's leading centre for contemporary photography.

16-18 Ramillies Street, Soho, London, W1F 7LW

Tube: Oxford Circus Station

 
 

The Photographers' Gallery - Britain's leading centre for contemporary photography - emerged from a 3.6 million pound redesign in May 2012 revealing the work of Irish architects O'Donnell and Tuomey. Relocating from Great Newport Street, its home for the past 27 years, to occupy a former warehouse built in Ramilies Street in 1910, the Photographers' Gallery has three floors of galleries, a studio floor for education activities, a bookshop, cafe and print sales space. Best of all, it hosts a year-round programme of fantastic free exhibitions and events. At ground level the building has a glass wall that links its cafe to a little square outside where outdoor photographic displays are held. On the top floor a large window reveals views across Oxford Street and beyond. A visit to this long-standing gallery is always worthwhile and it's annual Deutsche Borse Prize, the photographer's equivalent of the Turner, is a must-see for anyone with an interest in photography.

 
 

Events at Photographers' Gallery

Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2020 Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

21st February to 7th June 2020 | Free until noon daily then £5 (Adults), £2.50 (Concessions)

 
Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2020 Photographers' Gallery 2020-02-212020-06-07 Where:
Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street London, W1F 7LW
Category: Art Galleries
Jan Svoboda: Against the Light Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

21st February to 7th June 2020 | £2.5-£5 | Free daily after 5pm and Thursday lates

 
Jan Svoboda: Against the Light Photographers' Gallery 2020-02-212020-06-07 Where:
Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street London, W1F 7LW
Category: Art Galleries
All events at Photographers' Gallery
 
 
 
 

Serpentine Gallery

Home of the long-running Summer Pavilion, the Serpentine is free all year round

Kensington Gardens, South Kensington, London, W2 3XA

Tube: Lancaster Gate Station

 
 

The Serpentine provides a platform for contemporary artists, both British and international, with changing exhibitions. There's a permanent work comprising eight benches, a tree-plaque, and a carved stone circle by artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay in the grounds of the gallery which is dedicated to the Serpentine's former Patron Diana, Princess of Wales. In July, the annual Summer Party is a highlight on the party circuit, attracting celebrities, fashionistas and models showing the latest designer dresses. Rather more artistically important is the Summer Pavilion; each year a distinguished architect is invited to build a temporary structure which sits alongside the gallery for the summer months. Often controversial and always a talking point, the Summer Pavilion is arguably one of the most interesting exhibitions that the Serpentine presents.

 
 

Events at Serpentine Gallery

Serpentine Pavilion 2020: Counterspace On SoonFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

11th June to 11th October 2020 | Free

 
Serpentine Pavilion 2020: Counterspace Serpentine Gallery 2020-06-112020-10-11 Where:
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens London, W2 3XA
Category: Art Galleries
All events at Serpentine Gallery
 
 
 

Tate Britain

One of four Tate galleries in the UK and home of the Turner Prize

Millbank, Westminster, London, SW1P 4RG

Tube: Pimlico Station

 
 

Overlooking the River Thames, Tate Britain was originally founded through the philanthropy of the sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate. The Tate legacy now encompasses three other galleries around the UK, including Tate Modern also in London. Dedicated to showcasing Britain's artistic talent, Tate Britain is home to the greatest collection of British art from 1500 to the present day. Since it opened in 1897, the collection has expanded to include works from Blake, Rossetti, Spencer and Stubbs. It also hosts the Turner Prize - the contemporary art world's premier award. Turner's Gallery (another tribute to the artist himself) is a virtual reconstruction of the room in which Turner showed his own paintings.

 
 

Events at Tate Britain

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

20th May to 31st August 2020

 
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye Tate Britain 2020-05-202020-08-31 Where:
Tate Britain, Millbank London, SW1P 4RG
Category: Art Galleries
After Empire: Photographing Britain and the World Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

30th June to 27th September 2020

 
After Empire: Photographing Britain and the World Tate Britain 2020-06-302020-09-27 Where:
Tate Britain, Millbank London, SW1P 4RG
Category: Art Galleries
All events at Tate Britain
 
 
 

Tate Modern

Europe's most popular art gallery is free to visit

Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG

Tube: Blackfriars Underground Station

 
 

Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, Tate Modern pays homage to art from 1900 to the present day. Located along the banks of the River Thames, the gallery opened to great acclaim in 2000 and has since welcomed millions of visitors through its imposing doors. If you are visiting for the first time, you should approach from Blackfriars station, crossing Norman Foster's 'Blade of Light' footbridge walking towards this spectacular modernist masterpiece with the dome of St Paul's Cathedral behind you. The awesome Turbine Hall creates a stunning entrance and a vast space, used to display temporary installations on a grand scale. There are three levels of galleries enclosed by a spectacular two-storey glass roof that provides fantastic views of London and a great cafe. Full of the jokey eccentricities of contemporary art, it's one of the few art galleries that children and teenagers will enjoy, but it also offers the full set of iconic twentieth century artists, from Matisse to Moore, Dali to Picasso. Justifiably the most popular art gallery in Europe.

 
 

Events at Tate Modern

Zanele Muholi Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

29th April to 18th October 2020

 
Zanele Muholi Tate Modern 2020-04-292020-10-18 Where:
Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street London, SE1 9TG
Category: Art Galleries
Andy Warhol Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

12th March to 6th September 2020 | £22 (Adults), £20 (Concessions), £5 (Children 12-18), Free (Under 12s)

 
Andy Warhol Tate Modern 2020-03-122020-09-06 Where:
Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street London, SE1 9TG
Category: Art Galleries
Dora Maurer OngoingFree Event Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

5th August 2019 to 5th July 2020 | Free

 
Dora Maurer Tate Modern 2019-08-052020-07-05 Where:
Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street London, SE1 9TG
Category: Art Galleries
Ed Ruscha
On SoonFree Event

1st May to 1st July 2020 - Various Times | Free

 
Ed Ruscha Tate Modern 2020-05-012020-07-01 Where:
Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street London, SE1 9TG
Category: Art Galleries
Magdalena Abakanowicz On Soon Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

17th June to 13th September 2020

 
Magdalena Abakanowicz Tate Modern 2020-06-172020-09-13 Where:
Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, 25 Sumner Street London, SE1 9TG
Category: Art Galleries
All events at Tate Modern
 
 
 

Tate Modern: The Tanks

A striking extension to Tate Modern, with underground chambers and a free open air viewing platform.

Tate Modern, Bankside Power Station, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG

Tube: Blackfriars Underground Station

 
 

A dramatic new development at Tate Modern, we got our first glimpse inside The Tanks in summer 2012 - revealed as part of the Cultural Olympiad in the 2012 Olympics - before they were fully opened to the public in summer 2016. The giant underground chambers, previously used to store a million gallons of oil, now host new audio works, installations and film installations as well as performance art. The striking extension, which cost 215 million, consists of two large circular spaces for performances and film installations, and smaller rooms which retain the smell of their industrial past. There's a room dedicated to Louise Bourgeois, a ground floor cafe and a restaurant. All very impressive. But the crowning glory is the free open air viewing platform on the top floor. Views over St Paul's, the River Thames and Millennium Bridge compete with those into neighbouring luxury apartments. Obey the signs saying 'respect the privacy of our neighbours', if you can.

 
 
 

Wallace Collection

Art classes, workshops, talks and tours all on offer for free

Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone, London, W1U 3BN

Tube: Bond Street Station

 
 

Free art classes and workshops, talks and tours, bring alive to visitors the varied works of art on display in Hertford House - the original family home of The Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Wallace. European paintings, miniatures and sculpture, French 18th-century furniture, Sevres and Meissen porcelain, goldsmiths' work and Oriental and European arms and armour combine to form one of the finest collections of art amassed by one family. Sir Richard Wallace - the illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess of Hertford - built up the original collection left to him by his father. Several Old Master paintings, notably 'The Laughing Cavalier', works by Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Reynolds, Rubens, Gainsborough, Titian and Romney make this gallery a worthy rival of others in the city. Renovations to the town house, which uniquely occupies the whole side of a garden square, include a glass-roofed courtyard - home to Oliver Peyton's brasserie - four new galleries and educational facilities. The acquisitions, bequeathed to the nation by Wallace's widow in 1897, are all free to view. There are regular tours during the week and weekend tours take place on Saturdays at 11.30am and Sundays at 3pm.

 
 

Events at Wallace Collection

Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes Ongoing Editor's Top Pick - Recommended

20th May to 13th September 2020

 
Rubens: Reuniting the Great Landscapes Wallace Collection 2020-05-202020-09-13 Where:
Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square London, W1U 3BN
Category: Art Galleries
All events at Wallace Collection
 
 
 
 

White Cube Bermondsey

At a massive 58,000 square feet White Cube Bermondsey Street is the largest commercial gallery in Europe.

144-152 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TQ

Tube: London Bridge Station

 
 

Jay Jopling's third - and largest - White Cube art gallery in London is located on Bermondsey Street and set in a former 1970s warehouse. At a massive 58,000 square feet White Cube Bermondsey Street is not only the largest art gallery within Jopling's White Cube empire but also the largest commercial gallery in Europe. A timely opening during the 2011 Frieze art fair, on 12 October 2011, launched the gallery to the world's richest and most influential art buyers. Designed by Casper Mueller Kneer Architects, the building has three principal exhibition spaces, substantial warehousing, private viewing rooms, an auditorium and a bookshop. The exhibition spaces are divided into the 'South Galleries', the principal display area, three smaller 'North Galleries', and the '9 x 9 x 9' gallery at the centre of the building. Frequently changing exhibitions by contemporary artists of the calibre of Jopling favourite Damien Hirst are supplemented by an education programme, artists' films and lectures. The first White Cube - one of the smallest exhibition spaces in Europe - was set up in Duke Street (1993-2002), not far from the current White Cube Mason's Yard which opened in September 2006, six years after White Cube Hoxton Square opened in April 2000.

 
 
 

White Cube Hoxton Square

Free-to-view, cutting edge art in hipster East London.

48 Hoxton Square, Hoxton, London, N1 6PB

Tube: Old Street Station

 
 

A leading part of the ferociously fashionable East London art scene, White Cube Hoxton Square, the first of White Cube's three London galleries, is invariably filled with some of the world's most cutting-edge art. Owner Jay Jopling is as A-list as the artists he collects. Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gilbert and George and his former wife Sam Taylor-Wood are all represented and their works shown at the three galleries and beyond. Occasionally, for really large exhibitions (like Gilbert & George's Jack Freak Pictures), artworks are spread across two of the White Cube galleries at Hoxton Square, at Mason's Yard and at the third and largest White Cube in Bermondsey - all of which are free to visit.

 
 
 

Whitechapel Gallery

Britain's first purpose-built arts gallery

77-82 Whitechapel High Street, Tower Hamlets, London, E1 7QX

Tube: Aldgate East Station , Aldgate East Underground Station, Aldgate Station

 
 

Designed in a distinctive Arts and Crafts architecture style by Charles Harrison Townsend, the Whitechapel, Britain's first purpose-built arts gallery, is renowned both for the beauty of its light, airy space and for embracing the local community in its work. Founded in 1901, extensive refurbishment saw the gallery double in size when it reopened in April 2009. The gallery does not have a permanent collection, preferring instead to host a constantly evolving programme of works and there is always something free to see. Community projects and retrospective exhibitions now rest alongside landmark examples of contemporary work. The Pop Art 'This is Tomorrow' exhibition of 1956 is often hailed as the gallery's most iconic event, although there are a number of other exhibitions worthy of note. Picasso's 'Guernica' was displayed here in 1938, Jackson Pollock had work exhibited at the gallery in the 1950s, David Hockney's first show was held here in 1970 and Lucian Freud had a major exhibition in 1993. With its pillared supports and high ceilings, The Lower Gallery, in particular, is a fantastic exhibition space.

 
 

Events at Whitechapel Gallery

The Return Of The Spirit In Painting
OngoingFree Event

1st May to 23rd August 2020 - Various Times | Free

 
The Return Of The Spirit In Painting Whitechapel Gallery 2020-05-012020-08-23 Where:
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street London, E1 7QX
Category: Art Galleries
All events at Whitechapel Gallery
 
 
 
 
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