Free Art in London: The Popular Five
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Free Art in London: The Popular Five

LondonÂ’s art galleries house the most incredible British and worldwide art collections and the best attraction is that the majority of them are free to peruse for the tourist or even the local Londoner. Here are five of the most popular free art galleries in central London:

Tate Modern

Situated on the South Bank, the Tate Modern has been transformed from a disused power station to the most visited gallery in London. Modern and contemporary art collections are spread over five floors where the most influential art movements of the twentieth century are chronicled through Picasso, Magritte, Dali and Rothko, amongst many others.  The enormous Turbine Hall, a central focus that rises from the ground floor, exhibits commissioned artists’ installations which often engage interactive performances from the visitor. 

Tate Britain

This historic national gallery predominantly represents British art from 1500 to the present day though some international art is also displayed.  A vast Turner Collection can be viewed at the Clore Gallery and the gallery hosts the famous Turner Prize every year.  Furthermore, collections devoted to Constable and Blake are on permanent show.  More contemporary artists include Francis Bacon and Henry Moore and current day artists: Tracey Emin and David Hockney. 

National Portrait Gallery

Nestled in the West End, is London’s biggest collection of famous British portraits some of which date back to Tudor and Elizabethans portraitures. Besides contemporary artists there are wide-ranging portraits through British history of Regency, Edwardian and Victorian periods.  Additionally, there is 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?

Serpentine Gallery

Head out to west London for this 1930s style gallery which is situated near to Kensington Park  and has several permanent works in the grounds dedicated to its former patron, Princess Diana.  It now houses an impressive selection of modern and contemporary art through temporary exhibitions and has shown works of Andy Warhol, Man Ray and Damian Hirst.  It also offers the visitor lectures, a cinema and even artistic walks.

National Gallery

If you prefer the more classical approach to art, take a visit to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square for an insight into Western European art from the thirteenth to nineteenth centuries.  Its free entrance has been obligatory since it opened in 1938 in the belief that art should be for all the people: rich and poor.  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 to name a few.

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Comments (1)

Wonderful article on the galleries of London. A must read for all travelers to London.