London’s art galleries possess the most incredible British and worldwide art collections and the best attraction is that the majority of them are free. Here are five of the most popular free art galleries in central London:
1. Tate Modern
Situated on the South Bank, the Tate Modern was transformed from a disused power station to one of the most visited galleries in London. Modern and contemporary art collections are spread over five floors which are designed to recreate the chronological order of the most influential art movements of the twentieth century from where you can gaze at the art of Picasso, Magritte, Dali and Rothko, amongst many others. In addition, the enormous Turbine Hall exhibits commissioned artists’ installations and the extra top floors make for an amazing view over the skyline of London. Don’t forget you can also visit Tate Britain, sister to the Modern, for free too.
2. National Portrait Gallery
Nestled near the heart of theatre land in the West End, is London’s biggest collection of famous British portraits some of which date back to the Tudor and Elizabethans portraitures. Besides contemporary artists there are wide-ranging monarch portraits through the British history of Regency, Edwardian and Victorian periods. The gallery displays an enormous compilation of iconic photographic portraits of famous British people from the 1840’s to present day pop stars. Where else can you see Shakespeare and The Beatles under the same roof?
3. Serpentine Gallery
Head out to west London for this gallery which is situated near to Kensington Park and the Serpentine Lake and has several permanent works in the grounds dedicated to its former patron, Princess Diana who was also responsible for its extensive renovation. It now houses an impressive selection of modern and contemporary art and has exhibited the likes of Andy Warhol and Damian Hirst. It also offers the visitor lectures, cinema and even artistic walks.
4. National Gallery
If you prefer the more classic approach to art, take a visit to the National Gallery for an insight into the collection of Western European art from the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries. Its free entrance has been obligatory since its opening in the belief that art should be for all the people, not just the rich. Although not as large as the Louvre in Paris, it houses some of the most important artwork through the centuries from Michelangelo and Caravaggio to Van Gogh and Monet.
5. The Saatchi Gallery
Situated in Chelsea, this gallery celebrates lesser known, contemporary artists who might otherwise not have their work exhibited. It provides a platform for them to reach the widest audience possible, both to the public and the art world in general and come from Britain and international countries. Previous unknown artists include Damian Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas.