London is not only known for having one of the most eclectic, diverse and constantly evolving art scenes in the world, but most of its incredible galleries are also free for anyone to discover. From contemporary art at the Tate Modern and impressionism at the National Gallery to Old Masters at Dulwich Picture Gallery, the city has a gallery to tick pretty much any box. Here's our carefully curated guide to the places you should definitely visit if you're an art enthusiast and you plan on visiting the city.
Guide to the best art galleries in London
In this guide
The best art galleries in London
- Tate Britain – Brilliant British art
- Tate Modern – Contemporary and modern art
- Serpentine Galleries – Contemporary in Kensington Gardens
- The National Gallery – A European marvel
- Royal Academy of Arts – The very best of artists
- National Portrait Gallery – The first-ever portrait gallery
- Dulwich Picture Gallery – Iconic artworks
- The V&A – Leading art and design museum
- Hayward Gallery – A beautiful brutalist gallery
- Barbican Centre – A symbol of brutalist architecture
- ICA London – Cutting-edge art and cinema
- Saatchi Gallery – Emerging UK artwork
- Drawing Room – One for drawing fans
- White Cube – Huge names in contemporary art
- Whitechapel Gallery – An East London gem
- SLG – South London art hub
- Zabludowicz Collection – Championing emerging artists
- Mimosa House – A space for female artists
- Chisenhale Gallery – Artist-led exhibition space
- The Wallace Collection – The finest European art
- Estorick Collection – 20th-century art from Italy
- Candid Arts Trust – Shows by local artists
- The Photographers' Gallery – Dedicated photography gallery
- Goodman Gallery – Art by the African diaspora
- Marlborough – Intimate commercial gallery
- Waddington Custot – Modern and contemporary art
- Furtherfield – Gallery in the park
- Hundred Years Gallery – A home for experimental art
- Gagosian – Top global gallery
- The Gilbert & George Centre – London art icons
- Newport Street Gallery – Damien Hirst's personal collection
- Deptford Does Art – Supporting local artists
- Frameless – Immersive art experience
- God's Own Junkyard – Neon wonderland
- Halcyon Gallery – Creativity and innovation
- Lightroom – Immersive artist-led shows
- Lethaby Gallery – Up-and-coming creative talent
- William Morris Gallery – Famed textile designer's home
- Graffik Gallery – Leading street art gallery
- Camden Art Centre – Contemporary art gallery in Camden
- Pure Evil Gallery – A good gallery
- NOW Gallery – Free exhibitions in the public space
- 180 Studios – Contemporary spaces for awe-inspiring exhibitions
- Haricot Gallery – New on the block
- GRIMM London – A commitment to contemporary
The best art galleries in London
Brilliant British art
Discover the history of British art with a visit to Tate Britain, one of the most famous galleries in the city located in the upmarket borough of Chelsea. See the development of British art that has evolved from the 16th century all the way up to the present day. It's also worth checking their website for the ever-changing programme of temporary exhibitions and special events that further explore British art in all its glory.
Contemporary and modern art
Explore the contemporary art scene of modern-day Britain at Tate Modern, located along the Thames in Bankside in a huge former power station. It's free to visit, although some of the exhibitions you have to pay for, but the free section includes works of art by the likes of Jackson Pollock, Dalí, Cézanne, Bonnard, Matisse, and Picasso, to name a few.
Contemporary in Kensington Gardens
Serpentine Galleries is located across two sites only five minutes apart in the heart of lush Kensington Gardens. It’s been a frontrunner for contemporary art since 1970 and has showcased artworks by some of the most renowned artists of our time. Make sure you put some time aside to stroll through the gardens after, it's one of London's prettiest parks.
A European marvel
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is home to one of the most impressive collections of European paintings in the world. There are works dating back from the 13th century to the early 20th century by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh and Monet. The collections here are truly representative of some of the best painters to ever exist. It's also open 361 days of the year and is free to visit.
The very best of artists
The Royal Academy of Arts has been open for more than 250-years and is an independent gallery located in the middle of Piccadilly. The artwork here showcases the very best of historic Old Masters and contemporary artists via major exhibitions.
The first-ever portrait gallery
The National Portrait Gallery is home to a huge collection of portraits depicting some of the most important British historical figures, from Anne Boleyn to Queen Elizabeth I. It underwent extensive refurbishment in 2023 and now features a new entrance, public spaces, a learning centre, and more.
Dulwich Picture Gallery, located between Brixton and Peckham, houses artwork by some of the most iconic artists ever to have wielded a paintbrush. The building was designed by the renowned Sir John Soane and is home to more than 600 paintings by the likes of Canaletto, Rembrandt, and even Gainsborough.
Leading art and design museum
The V&A is one of London’s leading museums, focusing on art and design. Both the permanent collection and temporary shows celebrate the worlds of design, applied arts, fashion, graphic design, and textiles. You can also join in with a varied range of workshops, events, and talks that support the exhibition programme.
A beautiful brutalist gallery
This brutalist gallery is located in the heart of Southbank and is the home of cutting-edge contemporary artworks, as well as an annually changing exhibition programme. It's been recently refurbished and the inside of the building is soaked in natural sunlight from the huge ceiling skylights.
A symbol of brutalist architecture
The Barbican Centre has been a symbol of brutalist architecture ever since it opened back in 1982. It's home to an art gallery that explores different forms of art, as well as a plant-filled conservatory and a programme of changing events. It's open every day of the week (although different parts of the centre are open at different times, so be sure to check) and doesn't cost a penny to visit.
Cutting-edge art and cinema
The Institute of Contemporary Arts was founded in 1947 by a collective of artists. Today it remains a place to discover cutting-edge art and cinema. When you want to see challenging and thought-provoking work that addresses 21st century concerns and ideas, this is the place to be in London.
Emerging UK artwork
This contemporary art gallery located in the Duke of York's HQ along King's Road in the charming borough of Chelsea was first established in 1985 by renowned art collector Charles Saatchi. It promotes work by emerging young artists who haven't yet had much visibility in the UK.
One for drawing fans
Although it was established in 2002, Drawing Room opened its first permanent gallery space in 2023. This is the only London art gallery dedicated to contemporary drawing, hosting a range of exhibitions from new and established artists. The gallery also runs events, educational programmes, and has a library that's open to all and holds thousands of books on contemporary drawing.
Huge names in contemporary art
With two modern spaces in London, White Cube is a destination for discovering work by some of the biggest names in the art world, like Gilbert & George, Anthony Gormley, and Tracey Emin. Both sites are minimalist spaces, letting the work really stand out, and host a regularly changing programme of exhibitions.
An East London gem
This bright E1 gallery can be found a few steps from Aldgate East Station and is home to an evolving display of exhibitions by up-and-coming artists, meaning there's something new to see with every visit. There’s also a contemporary British café serving seasonal food, as well as a wine bar for a post-gallery tipple or two.
South London art hub
Based in Camberwell, South London Gallery has two buildings a short walk from each other. The gallery shows innovative work by both emerging artists and well-established names. There's an on-site café and shop too. SLG also runs an annual residency programme for recent graduates and publishes its own arts journal.
Championing emerging artists
A short walk from Chalk Farm station, Zabludowicz Collection is all about showcasing innovative work from emerging artists. The labyrinth-like building houses numerous spaces and is about as far from the traditional white-cube gallery as you can get. Staff here are friendly and welcoming, and there's also a café on-site.
A space for female artists
Established in 2017, Mimosa House is an independent non-profit gallery that showcases the work of female and queer artists from around the world. This female-owned gallery is a safe and inclusive space and shows work by diverse artists. Events like workshops and performances tie in with the exhibitions that are on here.
Artist-led exhibition space
Originally established by artists almost 40 years ago, Chisenhale Gallery in East London commissions and exhibits innovative work by artists from the UK and around the world. Each commission completely transforms and takes ownership of the space. Chisenhale Gallery is a non-profit organisation and forges links with the local community.
The finest European art
The Wallace Collection is a gallery located in Mayfair within the former townhouse of the noble Seymour Family. The gallery showcases around 5,500 of the most prestigious European paintings, featuring everything from portraits to landscapes.
20th-century art from Italy
There's no doubt that Estorick Collection is a bit niche but it's worth visiting if you're a modern art fan. It focuses on Italian 20th-century art, and the Futurist movement in particular. Opened in a Georgian townhouse in 1994, there are three floors to explore of temporary exhibitions and the permanent collection.
Shows by local artists
Behind Angel station is Candid Arts Trust, a charitable organisation that supports local artists. In the gallery you can see regularly changing shows by local talent. This place also hosts popular life drawing classes, events like poetry nights, live music, and film screenings, and you can relax in the peaceful café here.
Dedicated photography gallery
When it opened in 1971, The Photographers’ Gallery became the UK's first gallery dedicated to photographic works. Over the years it has built a community of international photographers and continues to show exhibitions that celebrate photography in all its forms. Regular exhibition tours and events take place, plus there's a café and shop.
Art by the African diaspora
Goodman Gallery in Cork Street is the well-established South African gallery's London outpost. The gallery shows a broad range of work, focusing in particular on female artists and the African diaspora. Some of the major players who've exhibited here include Yinka Shonibare, El Anatsui, and Ghada Amer.
Intimate commercial gallery
Head to Marlborough in Albemarle Street if you want to see work by art world stars in a more intimate setting than a museum retrospective. Opened in 1946, this friendly gallery shows pieces by some of the biggest names like Paula Rego, Maggi Hambling, and Frank Auerbach in a sophisticated environment.
Modern and contemporary art
At Waddington Custot you can see a broad range of group and solo shows, focusing on modern and contemporary art. Names to exhibit here include Chu Teh Chun, Alice Anderson, and Barry Flanagan. Special events regularly take place at this spacious gallery, including tours and talks by exhibition curators.
Gallery in the park
You could easily miss Furtherfield, located in the middle of Finsbury Park, but it's a hub for artwork that explores the intersection of art and technology. Work is shown by local and international artists, and there are interactive projects you can get involved in too. This is the cutting-edge of contemporary art.
A home for experimental art
Hundred Years Gallery is an intimate exhibition space that champions innovative and experimental art, providing a platform for underrepresented and younger artists. As well as visual art, the gallery has weekly performances of experimental music. There's also a bar, and regular artists' talks and events take place here.
Top global gallery
Gagosian has a presence around the world, including gallery spaces in London. At these venues you can see some of the finest contemporary art from top names like Rachel Whiteread and Takashi Murakami. Impressive new shows take over each space regularly, including new work by top artists.
London art icons
Gilbert & George have been massive names on the art scene since the 1960s and you can explore their unique work at The Gilbert & George Centre in Spitalfields. The centre is free to visit and and shows changing exhibitions of the duo's work. It's also a place for art research and education, and school and student groups are welcome.
Damien Hirst's personal collection
This private gallery is a place for the iconic Damien Hirst to showcase the personal collection of art he has accumulated over the years. It's located in an old Victorian painting studio in Vauxhall and features an eclectic selection of art by the likes of Francis Bacon, Banksy, Picasso, Jeff Koons and many more.
Supporting local artists
Check out work by local emerging artists at Deptford Does Art’s basement gallery. Exhibitions here cover a huge range of subjects and media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, and sonic art. It’s also the home of South London Zine Fest, and has a ground-floor shop selling crafts and products by local artisan makers.
Immersive art experience
Frameless provides an unparalleled look at works by masters such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Dali, and Mondrian. With the help of cutting-edge projection technology, the largest immersive art experience of its kind places you in the centre of the paintings, surrounding you on all sides with a detailed visual presentation that will change the way you view these masterpieces forever.
Giving Las Vegas a run for its money, God’s Own Junkyard is a small gallery in Walthamstow where artist Chris Bracey displays the neon signs he has salvaged and made. These include pieces that were used in movies such as Eyes Wide Shut, Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and more, and the overall effect of the place, full of bright colours and shining lights, is quite overwhelming. In addition to being a great setting for photo shoots, God’s Own Junkyard also hires out its signs.
Creativity and innovation
Halcyon Gallery at Harrods is an ode to art by already established and up-and-coming artists. There are various works of art spread across the different floors, from paintings to sculptures, and the artists shown here are chosen particularly for their creative flair and innovative outlook.
Immersive artist-led shows
Lightroom is a contemporary art gallery that offers an immersive experience, with a large open space spanning four floors and equipped with cutting-edge digital projection and audio technology. The gallery is uniquely designed to showcase stunning exhibitions curated by renowned artists such as David Hockney, using technology to bring viewers even closer to the artwork.
Up-and-coming creative talent
Located in the imposing 19th-century Granary Building in King's Cross, the Lethaby Gallery is a creative outlet for the globally renowned Central Saint Martins arts college, exhibiting artworks by the institution's alumni, staff, and students. The gallery serves as a launching pad for emerging creative talents, offering a space for various events and workshops, in addition to its exhibitions.
Famed textile designer's home
The William Morris Gallery, occupying the artist's childhood home – a splendid grade II-listed building in Walthamstow's Lloyd Park – pays tribute to the renowned British artist, textile designer, and novelist, William Morris. It houses a constant display of Morris's creations and also hosts periodic exhibits that delve into his influences, spotlight other notable textile designers, and explore various related themes.
Leading street art gallery
Situated on the famed Portobello Road, this distinct contemporary gallery is a haven for fans of street and urban art. Recognized as the city's leading hub for street art, it showcases original pieces from urban art legends like Banksy, Dotmaster, Clet & Robin, and many others. Additionally, the gallery offers graffiti workshops for those eager to master the medium themselves.
Contemporary art gallery in Camden
Discover the world of contemporary art at Camden Art Centre. Catering to both avid art enthusiasts and casual visitors, this venue, once a public library, now combines exhibition areas, a bookstore, a café, and a serene garden. With a bustling line-up of events, showcases, courses, and artist-in-residence programs, the centre invites you to immerse yourself in thought-provoking, captivating art.
A good gallery
Pure Evil Gallery showcases pieces by Pure Evil and other prominent street artists, and also encompasses the artist's personal studio. Unlike many conventional galleries, Pure Evil Gallery holds a firm commitment to championing independent artists and prioritising values over profit. In this relaxed and hospitable artist-driven space, both prints and original pieces are available for purchase.
Free exhibitions in the public space
The NOW Gallery in Greenwich, situated in Peninsula Square, is a free public showcase dedicated to presenting an ever-evolving selection of contemporary art, fashion, photography, and design exhibits. By welcoming contributions from artists and visionaries of diverse backgrounds and stages in their careers, the gallery ensures its artistic space remains inclusive for everyone.
Contemporary spaces for awe-inspiring exhibitions
180 Studios, located on the Strand, is a modern cultural hub known for showcasing cutting-edge exhibitions across its diverse spaces. Housed within a Brutalist structure, it provides production spaces and is committed to supporting and endorsing the next generation of artistic talent.
New on the block
Though Haricot Gallery only opened in early 2023, it has swiftly evolved into a captivating addition to the city's artistic world, finding its place within the vibrant heart of buzzy Shoreditch. This gallery is wholly committed to showcasing the work of emerging artists who explore a wide range of mediums and artistic styles.
A commitment to contemporary
Nestled just steps from Berkeley Square in the prestigious Mayfair neighbourhood of London, you'll find GRIMM gallery. Despite its modest size, this gallery plays a significant role in championing the creative endeavours of over thirty artists from around the globe. With a special dedication to emerging and mid-career artists, GRIMM maintains a steadfast commitment to contemporary art across all its locations worldwide, spanning Amsterdam, New York, and London.