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Ten Free Art Galleries in London

by Ben West (June 2013)

That London has a wealth of free art galleries enriches the capital immeasurably. When galleries charge hefty entrance fees visitors often feel that they need to plan a visit and traipse around the whole exhibition to get their money’s worth. However, when entrance is free you can fit art galleries into the busiest of schedules: drop in for a few minutes to get a dose of culture and some tranquility away from the hectic bustle of the city. Whether you have only a passing interest in art or it’s your main pasion in life, whether your preference is old masters or the latest from the contemporary scene, there’s something here for everyone.


Showing below are all 5 records in "Ten Free Art Galleries in London"

Guildhall Art Gallery & Roman London´s Amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard, London, London

The first Guildhall Art Gallery was built in 1885 to display the City of London Corporation's growing art collection, and in 1988 the remains of London's only Roman Amphitheatre were discovered on the site, and displayed to the public in 2002. The Gallery features about 250 artworks from its collection of paintings, drawings and sculpture. They include a rich variety of Victorian paintings illustrating major artistic movements and influences of the Victorian period, from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, to Orientalism and Classicism. A collection of London paintings give a glimpse of memorable and colourful scenes from the seventeenth century onwards, including the Great Fire of London, 1666, and the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894.

South London Gallery

65 Peckham Road, London

South London Gallery, 65 Peckham Road, London, London

This attractive gallery in a southern backwater away from the centre may be Victorian but the art certainly isn’t. Since opening in 1891, with free admission one of its founding principles, the South London Gallery has always exhibited an eclectic mix of established and emerging artists, in recent years from Gilbert & George to Turner Prize winners Steve McQueen, Keith Tyson and Simon Starling and internationally famous names like Tracey Emin, Barbara Kruger and Christian Boltanski. As well as solo and group shows, there are live art events and integrated education projects for children.

Barbican Art Gallery

Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London

Barbican Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, London, London

Whilst many art exhibitions at The Barbican arts complex’s two art galleries have an admission charge, most of those at its gallery called The Curve are usually free. The ever-energetic temporary shows could include anything from sculptures to film, photography, installations, sketches, paintings and other media, both realistic and abstract and from all four corners of the world. The Curve is increasingly known for displaying some of the capital's most interesting contemporary art exhibitions, and has previously played host to guitar-playing finches, a World War II bunker, a digital bowling alley and Rain Room, a field of falling water for visitors to walk through and experience how it might feel to control the rain.

Whitechapel Art Gallery

80/82 Whitechapel High Street, London

Whitechapel Art Gallery, 80/82 Whitechapel High Street, London, London

For more than a century the Whitechapel Gallery has featured outstanding contemporary artists, whether Picasso, Pollock, Rothko or Kahlo in earlier years, or, more recently, the likes of Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Gilbert and George and Mark Wallinger. It’s extensive £13.5 million revamp, completed in 2009, has resulted in three times the exhibition space than it had before, There are regular events and activities, including childrens’ drawing workshops, family art trails and courses, and for older visitors, courses and workshops, talks and discussions, performances and film programmes.

Institute of Contemporary Arts

12 Carlton House Terrace, London

Institute of Contemporary Arts, 12 Carlton House Terrace, London, London

There’s always cutting-edge stuff at the The ICA, home of the British avant-garde and founded by a group of radical artists and writers in the 1940s as a space for experimental and challenging arts practice. While the address could not be more establishment – a neighbour of Buckingham Palace on The Mall in a Regency period building designed by John Nash – this is where you can see works from the likes of Damien Hirst, Steve McQueen and Tracey Emin.


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