The UK’s Most Prestigious Art Galleries

The UK’s Most Prestigious Art Galleries
Tate Modern Credit samuel Isaacs
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London is renowned for being an art lover’s paradise and has many exciting upcoming exhibitions to look forward to. However, art galleries aren’t only located in England’s capital. Here’s a look at some of the UK’s most prestigious art galleries, in and out of London.

London

Let’s start with the capital of England. London is home to many art galleries, but two worth seeing are the Tate Modern and the Royal Academy of Arts. Here’s a more detailed look:

The iconic Tate Modern is located on the banks of the River Thames at the southern end of the Millennium Bridge. Some of the world’s best-known contemporary and modern paintings, sculptures, and large-scale installations can be found at this museum. As just a sample, the works of artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol are displayed here. It’s also home to various live art installations that rotate throughout the year.

The UK’s Most Prestigious Art Galleries
Tate Modern Credit samuel Isaacs

Things to Know

The Tate Modern is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm but is closed on some public holidays, so check the website before heading out. Admission is free to most exhibits, but there are unique exhibitions now and again that have a ticket price. To avoid this, become a member of the museum.

Royal Academy of Arts

Situated inside a historic building in Piccadilly, the Royal Academy of Arts is unique, as it’s a place where “art is made, exhibited and debated.”

This independent institution, run by artists, encourages up-and-comers to perfect their craft on its premises.

The Royal Academy of Arts is best known for its controversial Sensation exhibit; it has 110 works by 44 artists, all owned by Charles Saatchi. A suspended shark in formaldehyde, a frozen head made from pints of blood, and child mannequins with genitalia grafted onto their heads were among the works displayed. The institution doesn’t shy away from pushing boundaries.

Things to Know

The Royal Academy of Arts is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm, and Fridays until 9 pm. It’s closed on Mondays and some public holidays. While some exhibits are free, most require tickets averaging £20 per person.

Liverpool

Next to London, Liverpool has the most prominent art scene in the UK. As well as being the home of the Beatles, with several museums dedicated to them, the two most prestigious art galleries are the Walker and Lady Lever.

The UK’s Most Prestigious Art Galleries
Walker Art Gallery Photo Credit: Paul Stevenson

Walker Art Gallery

The Walker Art Gallery is located in a historic building on William Brown Street, right near the entrance to the Queensway Tunnel.

It’s home to some of history’s most highly regarded artists, such as Rembrandt, Turner, Monet, Rubens and Gainsborough. Some of the work on display has been in Liverpool for over 200 years.

Over 500 pieces of decorative pottery, ceramics, glass, furniture and fashion are also on display.

Things to Know

The Walker Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm; it’s closed on Mondays. Entry is free, but small donations are appreciated.

Lady Lever Art Gallery

The Lady Lever Art Gallery is situated just outside Liverpool in Port Sunshine Village. It’s housed in a beautiful building constructed for her by her husband, industrialist and philanthropist William Lever, in 1922.

There are over 30 rooms filled with artwork, including the world’s most extensive collection of Wedgwood jasperware. Most people visit to see the pre-Raphaelite painting collection, which consists of work from Holman Hunt, Millais and Rossetti. The Greek and Roman section features ancient vases and sculptures.

Things to Know

Lady Lever Art Gallery is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, and entrance is free. They’d appreciate it if you could make a small donation when you visit.

Bristol

Last on our trip around the UK looking for prestigious art galleries is in Bristol. Possibly the broadest selection of art ranging from classic masters to edgy up-and-coming artists, there’s something for everyone here.

The most prestigious art gallery is the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

The UK’s Most Prestigious Art Galleries
Bristol City Museum Credit Heather Cowper

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery has had a rocky past. First established in 1823, due to fires, war and sales of buildings, it’s moved locations numerous times. It’s been in its current spot on Queen’s Road since 1947.

On the ground floor, visitors will find Egyptian mummies, and then on the first floor, the dinosaur exhibit. Art lovers need to go to the second floor, where they’ll find paintings from European Old Masters like Cranach and Bellini. There are works from 18th and 19th-century artists Constable and Gainsborough, plus a collection of Eastern art from China and Japan.

Things to Know

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, and is closed on Mondays. It may also be closed for selected public holidays, so check the website. Admission is free for everyone.

Prestigious Art Galleries in the UK

The UK is home to some of the most prestigious art galleries in the world. We’ve only just scratched the surface. London, Liverpool, and Bristol are three ideal cities to start with when looking for some of the most significant art collections available.

Go to the Tate Modern and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Head north to Liverpool and visit the Walker and Lady Lever Art Galleries. Then travel south-west to Bristol and explore the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.

Though most of the art galleries in our list are free to enter, some require tickets in advance. Always check the websites before visiting, as there could be some enticing deals being offered.

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