Art Travels

Contemporary Art in London: Top 10 Destinations the City Has to Offer

Carlotta Mazzoli 2 September 2022 min Read

London is one of the most popular destinations among art lovers. These 10 destinations will help you discover the best the city has to offer for contemporary art.

Keep calm and go to London! We all love the British capital. It is a constant source of inspiration, be it for fashion, music, or art. The city boasts some of the most spectacular museums in Europe and it surely has something to offer to everyone, whether you like classic, medieval, modern, or contemporary art.

But when it comes to contemporary art specifically, London is indeed one of the most relevant hubs not just in Europe, but worldwide. The city is in itself one of the biggest contemporary art markets in the world and it offers several different attractions and events for us – art lovers.

Between museums, art galleries, exhibition spaces, and art fairs, London is a major destination, and you will need more than just a few days to discover everything it has to offer. However, if you are looking for not-to-miss spaces for contemporary art, look no further. Here are 10 spaces that are well worth a trip to London this autumn.

1. Tate Modern

One of the most prominent museums for contemporary art worldwide, Tate Modern is definitely the first destination you should visit in London. The museum offers high-quality exhibitions, a permanent collection, and a number of events and activities for different publics.

contemporary art london - Tate Modern

View of Tate Modern, London, UK. Photo by MasterOfHisOwnDomain via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

2. Royal Academy of Arts

Another must-visit is the Royal Academy of Arts. Based in Burlington House, right in the heart of London, the Academy was founded in 1768 as a privately funded institution. Today it also serves as an exhibition center and hosts temporary exhibitions featuring both modern and contemporary artists.

Royal Academy London - Burlington House

Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, London, UK. Photo by Mike Peel via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

3. Institute of Contemporary Arts

Another great destination for contemporary art in the heart of London, ICA is located just steps away from Trafalgar Square (and the National Gallery). It was originally founded by a collective of artists, poets, and their supporters, to promote art and its creators. Nowadays the institute offers different galleries with temporary exhibitions, a theater, two cinemas, a bookshop, and a bar.

contemporary art london - ICA

Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK. Courtesy of ICA.

4. Barbican Centre

If you are more interested in performing arts, theater, and music, then the Barbican Centre is the place for you. Hosted in the Barbican Estate, a Brutalist complex in central London. Barbican Center offers music concerts, theater performances, film screenings, as well as art exhibitions.

contemporary art london - Barbican Centre

Barbican Centre, London, UK. Photo by Maciek Lulko via Flickr.

5. Newport Street Gallery

Newport Street Gallery is a private gallery that displays Damien Hirst’s private collection. Located in a former scenery painting studio built in 1913 in Vauxhall, it spans over 37,000 square feet on two levels. The gallery hosts rotating solo and group exhibitions with pieces from Hirst’s collection.

Newport Street Gallery Facade

Newport Street Gallery, London, UK. Gallery’s website.

6. Serpentine Galleries

Located in Kensington Gardens inside Hyde Park, Serpentine Galleries comprise the original Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. The two galleries together host amazing exhibitions by the world’s top artists, as well as screenings, lectures, educational programs, and a year-round calendar of events.

contemporary art london - Serpentine Galleries

Serpentine Galleries, London, UK. Photo by John Offenbach, 2007.

7. White Cube

Perhaps the most important contemporary art gallery in London and one of the top galleries in the world, White Cube has two locations in London. This gallery is famous for launching many representatives from the Young British Artists group, such as Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst. Their exhibitions are of top quality and the gallery works with some of the greatest artists alive.

White Cube Bermondsey London

White Cube, London, UK. Photo by Epha3 Lab from London via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).

8. Whitechapel Gallery

This is not a commercial gallery, but it is definitely among the most important ones in London. Whitechapel Gallery was opened in 1901 as one of the first publicly funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in the city. For over a century it has served as a focal point for modern and contemporary art in London.

Whitechapel Gallery London

Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK. Gallery’s website.

9. Gagosian

Gagosian doesn’t really need any introduction, as they are undoubtedly among the most important galleries in the world. In London, they have three different spaces, two in the very heart of Mayfair and one near King’s Cross.

Gagosian Gallery London

Gagosian Gallery, London, UK. Gallery’s website.

10. Sadie Coles HQ

With two locations in London, one in Mayfair and the other in Soho, Sadie Coles HQ boasts an incredible roster of international artists, both established and emerging, that they exhibit in their London spaces.

Sadie Cole HQ London

Installation view: Seth Price. Art Is Not Human, 2022, Sadie Cole HQ, London, UK. Gallery’s website.

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