Since May 18th marks International Museum Day, where else better to celebrate than in London? The city boasts one of the most impressive museum collections in the world, and best of all, art galleries around London are free for visitors, year round.
As an appreciator of art, I found it necessary to not only recommend the usual tourist favorites, but also explore the astounding galleries you may not have heard of, yet. For an insightful look into London’s ever changing art scene, The Fullest had a chance to pick the brain of Natasja Jozsa, a recent Art Business graduate from the prestigious Sotheby’s Institute of Art. With acute recommendations from a local, I was able to explore the ins and outs of London’s vast enlightening spaces.
Below is a list of world renowned institutions along with a few hidden gems around London that will be sure to provide you with a vivid cultural imprint:
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
For any lovers of art, design, and culture, the V&A will provide you with a surplus of material from all around the world. The South Kensington museum is so vast, that one visit alone will not be enough to ingest all that it has to offer. Enjoy observing fashion collections spanning centuries (notably Victorian dresses), the world’s largest collection of plaster casts, and contemporary exhibitions featuring cutting edge fashion and technology trends.
Newport Street Gallery, Newport St, Lambeth, London SE11 6AJ
Along with displaying the personal art collection of Damien Hirst, the Newport Street Gallery showcases artists from all around the world in new, ongoing exhibitions. Also situated in the gallery is Pharmacy 2, Hirst’s pill-themed restaurant in collaboration with Mark Hix. Explore Pharmacy 2 not only for their renowned menu, but also for the site-specific pieces from Hirst’s own series ‘Medicine Cabinets’ and butterfly Kaleidoscope paintings.
White Cube, Bermondsey, 144-152 Bermondsey St, London SE1 3TQ
This contemporary art gallery, owned by Jay Jopling, is known for presenting grand-scale exhibitions and engulfing spectators in 360 degree experiences. Beatriz Milhazes’ exhibition ‘Rio Azul’ is currently on display until July and promises to treat patrons to a variety of displays. For an added bonus, be sure to spot Banksy street art as you stroll down Bermondsey Street.
Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, 20 Grosvenor Hill, Mayfair, London W1K 3QD
The third and largest of Larry Gagosian’s London galleries, the Grosvenor Hill location showcases an impressive volume of world famous works (such as Picasso) while utilizing an intimate space to foster contemporary talent as well. The Grosvenor Hill location currently houses Richard Serra’s exhibition “Rifts.”
Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
No trip to London would be complete without a visit to the iconic modern art museum housed in an old power plant. The Tate Modern is constantly filled with evolving exhibitions, grand scale installations, politically charged pieces, as well as some classics. It draws in huge crowds daily and is a dynamic museum you’ll find yourself happily coming back to.
Hayward Gallery, 337-338 Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX
The Hayward Gallery is a contemporary art gallery situated within the Southbank Centre. Reopened in 2018, the space features ambitious collections, including a past retrospective of German photographer Andreas Gursky’s work. A visit to Hayward Gallery will also acquaint you with the other notable venues encompassing the Southbank Centre, including the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the National Poetry Library.
Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Rd, Hoxton, London N1 7RW
Considered to be ‘the most beautiful commercial gallery in London’ by Time Out Magazine, Victoria Miro boasts two locations across the city. A visit to the Shoreditch location will treat you to stunning works as well as the gallery’s outdoor garden, which overlooks a restored stretch of the Regent’s Canal at Wedlock Basin. Installations by artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Alex Hartley have been exhibited here.
The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
An art museum within Somerset House, the Courtauld Gallery is home to famous impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces including Édouard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Various works of Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Monet also occupy the walls of this breathtaking site. Take a moment to marvel at the beautiful Neoclassical architecture of Somerset House and be sure to see what else is on at this major arts and cultural centre.
ICA – Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, St. James’s, London SW1Y 5AH
The ICA is a cultural centre just off from Trafalgar Square which supports radical art and culture with exhibitions, films, events, and talks. With a dedication to supporting experimental forms of art, a visit to the ICA will introduce you to invigorating narratives in a passionate sphere. The ICA is conveniently located in one of London’s busiest hubs and is walking distance to the next gallery on our list.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
Located in the heart of Trafalgar Square, chances are you won’t want to miss the enormous gallery housing hundreds of paintings you’ve seen in popular culture. Some of its most notable works include Caravaggio’s “Supper at Emmaus,” Michelangelo’s “The Entombment,” George-Pierre Seurat’s “Bathers at Asnières,” and George Stubbs’ “Whistlejacket.” It’s easy to become happily lost in the maze that is the National Gallery. With endless rooms stretching as far as the eye can see, you can easily spend a couple hours inside the 19th century building and appreciate the finest art London (and the world) has to offer.
Sonia Gumuchian is a writer based in Los Angeles. Originally from Vancouver, she received her film degree from USC School of Cinematic Arts and has been working in the TV industry for several years. Sonia recently worked at ABC Studios and HBO, where she learned the ropes of creative development. Additionally, her work has been showcased at film festivals in the UK, the US, and Canada. Her entertainment articles have also been featured in USC Annenberg Media and Neon Tommy.