London SE1 9TG
Loveable because ... it's Tate Modern.
My favourite! Tate Modern hosts top quality exhibitions and has an incredible modern and contemporary art collection. The building is a former power station with an extension designed by starchitects Herzog & de Meuron. The bookshop is amazing, the view from the 3rd floor is astonishing (think Thames + St. Paul's Cathedral) and the view from the 10th floor is even better. So, a must-visit according to me. Oh and by the way, permanent collection admission is free.
www.tate.org.uk / free admission (except temporary exhibitions)
224-238 Kensington High St
London W8 6AG
θ High Street Kensington
Loveable because of the top-notch design exhibitions.
Design is a part of our life, so this museum is definitely worth paying a visit. Design is more than furniture, so once in a while they host a fashion-related exhibition (Louboutin, Paul Smith, etc.). Of course in the shop they sell cool gadgets and interesting books. The current building opened in November 2016 and is three times bigger than the previous building.
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG
θ Russell Square / Holborn / Tottenham Court Road
Loveable because of the courtyard, which is designed by Norman Foster.
It's like a small Louvre, you can easily spend a whole day or more in this museum. My advice: pick one or two sections (like Egyptian art).
Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A)
London SW7 2RL
θ South Kensington
Loveable because of their huge collection and top quality exhibition.
"The world's greatest museum of art and design." If you're in the mood for a treasure hunt you definitely have to visit the V&A. They have a mind-blowing collection of drawings, paintings, jewellery, fashion, ceramics, etc. They hosted exhibitions on David Bowie, Alexander McQueen and others. The shop is as stunning/overwhelming as the museum.
Duke of York's HQ King's Road
London SW3 4RY
θ Sloane Square
Loveable because admission is free.
Charles Saatchi is one of world's biggest art collectors and he wants to share his collection with us. So why don't you step by to have look when you're in Chelsea? (Changing themed exhibitions.) Also check the shop downstairs, beside books they sell gadgets, jewellery, tote bags, etc.
Sir John Soane's Museum - recommended by reader and London lover Hannes
13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
London WC2A 3BP
Loveable because Sir John Soane definitely was as mad as a box of frogs, but his legacy is certainly worth a visit.
Formerly the home of 19th century neo-classical architect, this place has something magical, out of this world about it. For one thing, it is situated in the area of the Inns of Court, which is in itself a nice place to stroll about. A keen archaeological and classical aficionado, Soane collected tons of artefacts, paintings, sculptures,… during his life. He wanted to display all of them in his house. The place is literally packed with the most eclectic collection. Do pay a visit to the paintings room, where Soane quite creatively solved a lack of space issue.
www.soane.org / free admission
London EC2Y 8DS
Loveable because there's theatre, art, music, film and music.
This building is actually worth a visit on its own. The outside (brutalist architecture) is so ugly and special at the same time, you just have to see it. So when in the neighbourhood just step by and drink/eat something at the cosy food hall (they've put many efforts into renovating the interior).
London W2 3XA
θ Lancaster Gate / South Kensington
and their new extension Serpentine Sackler Gallery (West Carriage Drive, Kensington Gardens, London W2 2AR) is only 5 minutes away.
Loveable because every year during the summer they ask an architect to create a temporary pavilion. (See photos below.)
Exhibitions are always free and they have a great shop as well (Koenig Books). The Serpentine Galleries are located in Kensington Gardens (Hyde Park), so it's really nice to go there during summer and have a drink at the pavilion's bar.
Burlington Gardens entrance:
6 Burlington Gardens
London W1S 3ET
Burlington House entrance:
Burlington House, Piccadilly
London W1J 0BD
Run by artists since 1768
London WC2R 1LA
Loveable because London Fashion Week is at the Somerset House courtyard and during the Christmas period there's a magnificent ice rink (also at the courtyard).
Somerset House hosts all kind of amazing events: fashion exhibitions, a graphic arts festival, open air cinema and music shows during summer. The architecture is wonderful as well, so definitely check the website to know what's on view and just go there. They have a cute shop as well. (Yes, I'm a museum shop fan if you hadn't noticed yet.)
London SE1 8XX
Loveable because of the brutalist building.
Hayward Gallery is part of the Southbank Centre, where also the Royal Festial Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall are. Exhibitions are always top-quality, so check the website in advance to see which exhibition is on.
A really useful tool is the 'new exhibitions'-website. When planning a trip to London and you're in for some art gallery hopping, check this website to know what's on where.
London's best known contemporary art gallery is probably White Cube (among other things because of Damien Hirst). So definitely check their website if you want to see some big artists for free. Don't be scared off by the gallery assistents who are probably not friendly because they know you won't buy anything.
In Central London there are some good galleries worth checking out. On this website you have an overview: galleries in the EC1-WC1 area. The gallery where I did my internship is Arcade. It's a small gallery but whenever you're in the neighbourhood on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday in the afternoon you can just step by to have a look, without anyone staring at you.
If you're more into 'underground' galleries I really recommend Vyner Street in East London. You'll probably think: "Is there an art gallery in this shitty street?" The answer is yes, possibly in every building. Often there's no other sign than an open door, but just go in and have a look.
In West London I can recommend Andipa Gallery. They have 'modern and contemporary masters' but the artist I like the most is Slinkachu. (Read a previous post about Slinkachu here.) He's famous for his little people and his work is on the verge of street art. The staff at Andipa is very friendly by the way.
Oh and by the way, on every first Thursday of the month almost all art galleries are open until 10PM.
Other galleries I like: