London has so much to offer in the way of cultural attractions that visitors are spoilt for choice. There are hundreds of art galleries, most of them offering free admission, where examples of paintings and sculptures from every period in the history of art can be viewed.
Below is a description of five of the most popular London galleries:
The National Gallery
Centrally located in Trafalgar Square the National has a huge collection of paintings with examples of masterpieces from most periods. There are classical Italian works by Michelangelo, Giotto and Titian, and masterpieces from the Dutch and Flemish masters. Among the most popular exhibits is the gallery’s collection of paintings by the French Impressionists, including an example of Van Gogh’s sunflowers.
Probably the best way to make the most of a visit to the National Gallery is to join one of the free tours where an experienced guide will make sure that you see the most important and popular exhibits. To round off a visit there is a restaurant and gift shop where souvenirs can be bought.
The Tate Britain is second only to the National Gallery when it comes to its collection of British artwork. Most of Britain’s favourite artists are represented here including Hogarth, Constable and Turner. Although the emphasis is on more historical painters there are works by contemporary artists such as David Hockney and Stanley Spencer on view. A popular venue is the Art Now event which features works by new painters. For a larger collection of modern British art, however, a visit to the sister gallery, the Tate Modern is a must.
The Tate Modern is housed in what used to be Battersea Power Station and the huge expanse of the site allows for exhibitions on a large scale. Paintings in the gallery are arranged by the art movement which they represent. For example, minimalism and abstract art have their own areas. The collection is made up of paintings from 1900 onwards and feature artists from all parts of the world. Because of the size of the gallery it is worthwhile taking advantage of a guided tour.
The National Portrait Gallery
This gallery is next to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square making it possible to visit both of them in one day. As the name suggests the National Portrait Gallery is home to an important collection of portraits of famous Britons. As well as paintings the exhibits include sculptures and drawings. One unusual feature of the Portrait Gallery is that the works are chosen with reference to the significance of the person whose portrait is featured and not by the ability or fame of the artist. For instance, there are portraits of the Brontë sisters painted by their brother.
The Queen’s Gallery
This small art gallery probably has the most prestigious address of any London art gallery as it is located in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. There is a constantly changing programme of displays of artwork from the Royal Collection and can feature a combination of paintings, sculpture and photography. As the displays change regularly it is worth contacting the gallery before visiting to check on the current exhibition.
The above five galleries featured, represent only a very small snippet of what London has to offer. No matter what your taste in art you are sure to find a gallery to suit. Should you have learning difficulties, then please check the individual galleries website for information regarding facilities provided. With accessibility constantly improving, most should no provide supported tours and information.