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GO ARt Galleries In London

Art Galleries in Greater London Get on the art trail with a visit to some of London’s finest galleries and most beautiful buildings.

Your first port of call should be The National Gallery [map], Trafalgar Square, London, WC2. On the doorstep of one of London’s top tourist attractions The National Gallery is home to an astounding collection of paintings, sculpture and pottery. This is the definitive art museum. From Raphael to Albrecht Dürer, there’s a range of international artists and an-ever changing programme of exhibitions.

For modern and contemporary art check out The Institute of Contemporary Arts [map] (ICA), based at Carlton House Terrace, The Mall, SW1. Here you’ll find a huge arts centre housing everything that’s good about art including media installations, modern exhibitions and a large educational programme.

Having undergone a major refurbishment The Barbican Centre Art Gallery [map], Silk Street, EC2, is now an impressive space offering interesting exhibits from graphic design artists, and a range of talks and workshops.

In West London your first port of call should be the Royal Academy of Arts [map]. This world-famous venue located at Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1, has always been one of London’s most important art centres.

The Architecture Gallery at the Royal Institute of British Architects [map], Portland Place, Westminster, W1, has a series on exhibitions that look at design through the ages. This fascinating glimpse into the past offers visitors something interesting and unique, plus there’s the opportunity to wander around the fantastic 1930s building which is, in itself, an example of magnificent architecture.

In a Georgian building on Canonbury Square in North London you will find a unique artistic offering – the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art [map]. This is the only museum in the country to focus on Italian art of the 20th century and is renowned for its collection of Futurist work.

Before the multimillion-pound facelift, the arts-eye view of the East End of London evoked images of struggling artists and life loving hippies, now the area has been transformed into a focal point for creatives.

The premier showcasing space in east London is the Whitechapel Gallery [map], E1. Established in the late 19th century this gallery houses work by a number of artists over the years including Pollock, Lucian and Hockney.

The 291 Gallery [map], E2, is one of London’s most impressive galleries. The building itself is a refurbished Neo-Gothic church and has spaces for contemporary art of all kinds – from paintings to digital arts to live performances. It is one of the few independently funded Public Art Galleries in the area.

If you’re starting out on the art appreciation trail, head to The Dulwich Picture Gallery [map], Gallery Road, SE21. This gallery is home to an outstanding collection of 17th century old masters and includes famous works from Rembrandt, Murillo, Rubens, Watteau and Gainsborough, as well as a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions that take place throughout the year.

The Southbank is awash with excellent art. Choose from the famous Tate Modern [map] for some of the hot exhibitions that everybody is talking about or pop into the Tate’s nearest rival, The Saatchi Gallery [map], County Hall, Belvedere Road, SE1, for the latest top designers and modern artists.

Experience the gentle world of watercolour at The Bankside Gallery [map], Hopton Street, Southwark, SE1. This gallery is home to the Royal Watercolour Society and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers so visitors can expect an eclectic range of exhibitions from two of the oldest societies of their kind in the world.

Visit the Tate Modern’s big brother at Millbank, SW1. Tate Britain [map] reflects the changing face of British art with exhibitions and installations from more than 600 years of cultural history. This is also where the world-famous Turner Prize is judged and exhibited.

For something decidedly wacky and an expedition that is sure to win favour with children, why not visit The British Cartoon Centre [map] (National Museum of Cartoon Art), at The Brunswick Centre, Bernard Street, WC1. See how the experts have brought cartooning from the days of Hogarth right up to modern Simpson’s-style animation. You can even try your hand at drawing your own caricatures, comic strips and animations.

For still images one of Britain’s leading lights is located in Central London. A visit to The Photographers’ Gallery [map], Great Newport Street, WC2, is a must. This is one of the best centres for contemporary photography in the world and offers a range of free exhibitions. This is also the place to see the winner of The Citigroup Prize - the photographer’s equivalent of the Turner Prize.

Other photography and modern art venues where you can enjoy some interesting collections and perhaps purchase a piece of art include Hanina Gallery [map], Westbourne Grove, W11, The Ice House [map], Holland Park, W8, and the Pentagram Gallery [map], Needham Road, W11.

If you want to purchase art head to Bloomsbury in Central London. Perhaps more famous for its literary connections than its artistic abilities this district is home to a wealth of privately owned galleries displaying and selling affordable art.

And if you know your art from your elbow why not try your luck at one of the world’s foremost auction houses. Bonhams Knightsbridge [map], Montpelier Street, SW7, is a family-owned auction house that was founded in 1793 and now draws buyers from across the globe. Its specialist knowledge extends to many disciplines, ranging from traditional art to new fields of collecting.

If you want to comment on our choices or recommend somewhere, why not use our What You Recommend form to let us know.

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