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Our Top 10 Favourite Art Galleries to Visit in the UK

5th October 2018


With International Artists Day coming up on the 25th October, we’ve pulled together some of our favourite art galleries to visit around the country. From the more traditional galleries, to the most weird and wonderful exhibitions, if you’ve got a spare weekend coming up, why not take a trip and visit some of our favourites?

Laing Art Gallery – Newcastle

Just a short walk from the famous architecture of Grey Street, The Laing Art Gallery has regularly changing exhibitions of historic, modern and contemporary art. It primarily focuses on British oil paintings but also showcases some magnificent pieces of silver and glassware. The gallery has an 18th and 19th century display for more serious art connoisseurs but there’s also an under 5s area making it suitable for family trips. One of Newcastle’s must visit attractions.

Haywood Gallery – Southbank Centre, London

Opened in 1968, the Haywood Gallery in the Southbank Centre is one of the best examples of brutalist architecture in the UK. The exhibitions on show rotate every 3-4 months so there’s always something new to experience at one the world’s most adventurous and innovative galleries. Currently, until 6th January 2019, the 5 star rated ‘Space Shifters’ exhibition is on show featuring some incredible illusions that explore perception and space. Definitely worth a trip if you’re visiting London this winter.

Turner Contemporary – Margate, Kent

Located on the Margate harbour, the Turner Contemporary gallery has some stunning surroundings as well as some stunning pieces of art inside it. The gallery is named after JMW Turner, one of Britain’s most celebrated artists. Admission to the gallery is free and there’s plenty of cafés and restaurants located on the beach front, making the Turner Contemporary the perfect gallery for day visits.

Whitworth Art Gallery – Manchester

As part of the University of Manchester, the Whitworth was founded in 1908 but received a £15 million investment in 2015, meaning it’s one of the most popular galleries in the UK, attracting 440,000 visitors in its first reopening year. The Whitworth has an inside and outside gallery as well as a café and learning studio, making it a fantastic, family friendly art gallery. Exhibiting some of the most famous artists of all time, from van Gough to Picasso, the Whitworth is a must visit for all art enthusiasts.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Wakefield, West Yorkshire

One of the UK’s leading open-air art galleries, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the most dynamic exhibitions of art. The collection is ever changing, with new sculptures regularly added to the collection they have on show. The park stretches for 500 acres and there’s always around 80 pieces of art to see making it one of Yorkshire’s favourite places for a family day out.

Tate Liverpool

Overlooking Liverpool’s waterfront, the Tate Liverpool is part of the world famous Tate institution. Based in what used to be an old warehouse, the gallery now hosts works from some of the world’s most famous artists including Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. The gallery is free to enter which means it’s a great place to visit if you’re exploring the city of Liverpool for the first time.

©G-Man/Wikimedia Commons

The Design Museum – London

This world leading museum is dedicated to contemporary design in every form. The Design Museum opened in 2016 and showcases some of the world’s leading pieces of architecture, fashion, graphics and product design. If you fancy something outside the world of paintings, portraits and pictures, The Design Museum exhibits some of the more unusual art works and also offers free talks and workshops from some of the leading designers in the country.

The Hepworth – Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Set in the heart of Yorkshire, the Hepworth opened in May 2011 and overlooks the River Calder that runs through the centre of Wakefield. The building is stunning and inside you will find the some of the best international modern and contemporary art including works by Ben Nicholson and Barbra Hepworth, who the gallery itself was named after. In 2017, the Hepworth won the Art Fund Museum of the Year and is definitely one of the smaller, less well known galleries to visit for art enthusiasts.

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© Sam Town / Flickr

Beatrix Potter Gallery – Hawkshead, Cumbria

You don’t have to be a huge Beatrix Potter fan to appreciate this unique and quirky gallery. Beatrix Potter was famous for her children’s illustrations and her gallery in the Lake District is the only place you can get up-close to some of her most famous and original illustrations. She also happened to be a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that her gallery makes our list of the best in the UK. A slightly different one for all lovers of illustration out there.

Ikon Gallery – Birmingham

An internationally acclaimed art gallery, the Ikon is one of more recognisable galleries on the list. Featuring artists from around the world, a variety of media is represented, including sound, film, mixed media, photography, painting, sculpture and installation meaning all fans of art can enjoy their trip to this stunning gallery.

View - Bristol

Art isn’t just about painting canvases. Art of all kinds is spread out over two floors at this modern and contemporary gallery in Bristol. At View, a mixture of media including paintings, sculptures and photography is explored with regularly changing exhibitions that mean visiting once is simply not enough. They also have regular art sales meaning there’s a chance you can take your favourite pieces home.