The 5 Best...
Art Galleries in Britain

There is a treasure trove of art on display in the UK today.

In this series of posts we’ll be rating galleries from across the globe, zooming in on certain styles and periods of art.

To kick off, here is our run down the biggest and best free art galleries in the UK today. And they're not all in London!

Have we missed your favourite gallery off the list? Be sure to let us know!

5. Tate Modern, London

We couldn’t compile a list of top UK galleries without including the Tate Modern. Whilst Modern Art often divides people, this gallery remains one of the most popular Modern Art galleries in the world.

Tate Modern, London

We couldn’t compile a list of top UK galleries without including the Tate Modern. Whilst Modern Art often divides people, this gallery remains one of the most popular Modern Art galleries in the world.

This former power station contains a dizzying array of works, from famous pieces such as Picasso’s nudes and Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych to pieces by emerging artists that will challenge your perception of what art is and can be.

Marilyn Diptych

The Turbine Hall is a celebrated exhibition space – for the last two decades it has hosted innovative exhibitions including an indoor sun, a giant helter-skelter and a selection of soil from London parks.


4. The Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

By Maciek Szczepaniak [CC BY-SA 3.0 (httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

A little further afield is the jewel of Scottish galleries, the Scottish National Gallery. Whilst not as large as some of the other galleries on this list, it nevertheless boasts an outstanding collection of Scottish and European fine art.

Prominent Scottish artists such as Raeburn and McTaggart are featured alongside well-known masters - works by Monet, Vermeer and Delaroche can be found throughout the gallery. A particular favourite with visitors is Sargent’s Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, a striking portrait of a beautiful Scottish woman.

Lady Agnew of Lochlaw

Exhibitions here often focus on Scottish and European artists, exploring painters and periods in greater depth.


3. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Britain’s oldest (and arguably finest) university museum, the Ashmolean’s grand exterior is matched by its magnificent collection of art and archaeology. The artwork here is diverse, ranging from modern Chinese painting to 18th and 19th Century art collections.

Of particular note are Camille Pissarro’s Pointillist works on the top floor and Paolo Uccello’s The Hunt in the Forest, an iconic Renaissance painting that features clever use of perspective.

Hunt in the Forest

Previous exhibitions at the Ashmolean have included Islamic Art, Cézanne, and the drawings of Raphael, the last of which was extremely popular with the public.


2. Tate Britain, London

Tate Britain, London

In the heart of verdant Pimlico, the Tate Britain is a magnificent space, with high ceilings and austere stone providing the setting for a fine art collection.

With a focus on British artists from 1500 onwards, the curation in the Tate is thoughtful and distinctive. Of particular note is the 1840-1890 gallery, where walls covered in two rows of art, from Pre-Raphaelites to Impressionists, delight the eye.

The Tate also contains some individual rooms dedicated to British masters, one of which is the world’s largest collection of J. M. W. Turner’s work.

The main hall also regularly features innovative exhibitions, a notable example of which was an exhibition playing the sounds of damaged instruments from conflicts of the last two centuries.


1. The National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London

Standing proudly in Trafalgar Square, this gallery spans eight centuries of art and includes instantly recognisable masterpieces such as Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Leonardo da Vinci ’s The Virgin of the Rocks. From Old Masters to Impressionists, the collection has a depth and breadth unrivalled by any other gallery in the UK.

There are too many icon paintings masterpieces here to list, but be sure not to miss John Constable’s The Hay Wain, an idyllic depiction of the Suffolk countryside that has frequently been voted the nation’s favourite painting.

The Hay Wain

Special Exhibitions frequently pay homage to individual artists such as Rembrandt and Monet, and are well worth the additional admission fee. While you could easily spend an entire day here, we suggest that you don’t limit yourself to just one visit!

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