Top 15 British art galleries FEATURE

There's far more going on in British art galleries than first meets the eye. Whether you're looking for inspiration, relaxation or motivation, art galleries can provide it. BritEvents takes a look at the top 15 art galleries in Britain.

Top 15 British art galleries

There's far more going on in British art galleries than first meets the eye. As well as teaching us about art, galleries can inspire, entertain, or simply provide a relaxing space for us to take time out from the hustle and bustle of daily life. You can have lunch, explore the architecture, buy exclusive gifts, attend lectures and enjoy special guided tours. There are even workshops to brush up on your artistic skills. Here's our guide to the top 15 art galleries in Britain today.

The National Gallery, London

Situated in the heart of London in Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery houses one of the most extensive collections of Western European painting in the world. It contains over 2,300 works, including famous paintings such as Georges Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres and Van Gogh's Sunflowers. You can also enjoy masterpieces by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Goya, Turner, Constable, Degas, Czanne, and Monet to name but a few. And after all that, you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea in the cosmopolitan National Caf.
Trafalgar Square, City of London. Phone: 020 7747 5958 Visit website

The National Portrait Gallery, London

This is probably the greatest collection of portraits in the world, from the late Middle Ages to the present day. There's an incredibly diverse mix of images, from royalty to musicians and film stars. With over a thousand portraits on display at any one time, the collection caters to all tastes. At certain times you can even enjoy family art workshops and storytelling. The stunning rooftop restaurant with breathtaking views across the London skyline is another reason why you could easily spend a whole day here.
St Martin's Place, London. Phone: 020 7306 0055 Visit website

The Tate Modern, London

Situated on the south bank of the Thames, this former power station is now one of the leading galleries for modern art in Europe. With free entry to the main collection, you can enjoy works by artists such as Czanne, Matisse, Picasso, Rothko, Dali, Pollock and Warhol. As with most modern galleries, it's family-friendly, with games, films, books and interactive areas, all designed to make the experience of learning about art interesting and fun for all ages.
Bankside, London. Phone: 020 7887 8752 Visit website

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

This unpretentious gallery in the centre of Birmingham is home to one of the world's finest collections of Pre-Raphaelite art, as well as Old Masters and Impressionists. Artists on show include Burne-Jones, Dante and Rossetti, but there's an ever-changing programme of exhibitions. There are plenty of souvenirs in the shop and the Edwardian Tea Room provides refreshments in impressive surroundings. The beautiful 19th-century Grade II listed building is a work of art in itself, and a perfect setting to experience great art.
Newhall Street, Birmingham, West Midlands. Phone: 0121 331 5595 Visit website

The Queen's Gallery, Edinburgh

Opened in 2002 as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations, the Queen's Gallery aims to show a diverse range of works of art from the Royal Collection in a series of changing exhibitions. Visitors can see a variety of objects, from drawings and ceramics, to furniture and jewellery. Among the artists featured are Rembrandt, Monet, Michelangelo, Raphael, Holbein and Faberg, all reflecting the tastes of different members of the royal family over the past 500 years.
Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh. Visit website

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

Modelled on the Doge's Palace in Venice, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is an impressive neo-gothic red sandstone building. After a 17.6 million makeover, it has a new glass lift, a larger caf and shop, an education suite, and studio space. The revamp seems to enhance the exhibits, ensuring the magnificent portraits, paintings and photographs are displayed in the ideal environment. It's also a perfect place for lunch or even just a coffee break.
Queen Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian. Phone: 131 624 6200 Visit website

Walker Art Gallery Liverpool

Since 1877, the Walker Art Gallery has housed one of England's most outstanding art collections. Here you can see European art from the likes of Rembrandt, Poussin and Degas, 18th and 19th century British art, Pre-Raphaelite works, and more recent works by the likes of Lucian Freud, David Hockney, and Gilbert and George. With a thriving collection of contemporary art, a craft and design gallery, a children's gallery, a caf and a gift shop, it's the perfect day out for the whole family.
William Brown Street, Liverpool, Merseyside. Phone: 0151 478 4199 Visit website

Lady Lever Art Gallery, Bebington, Merseyside

This gem of a gallery was founded in 1922 by William Lever and is dedicated to the memory of his wife Elizabeth. As well as paintings by Gainsborough and Turner, there are Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Sir John Everett and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and works by British artists Turner and Constable. You'll also discover beautiful furniture, tapestries, sculpture, and classical antiquities. Make sure you check out the programme of special events and activities, including talks and workshops.
Lower Road, Port Sunlight, Wirral. Phone: 0151 478 4136 Visit website

The Saatchi Gallery, London

This innovative gallery for contemporary art presents work by mostly unseen young artists and lesser-known international artists. It was opened by Charles Saatchi in 1985 in order to exhibit his own collection to the public. In 2008 it relocated to Kings Road in Chelsea. It's definitely worth a visit, especially if you prefer contemporary art. The gallery's large rooms offer a dramatic backdrop for all the art on display. And the restaurant featuring an al fresco terrace provides a stylish location for lunch or drinks.
Duke of York's HQ, King's Road, London. Visit website

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

With a dynamic exhibitions programme including photography, contemporary and fine art, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery also houses a world-class collection of archaeological and geological pieces. On the second floor of this Edwardian building, you can see works as diverse as Bellini, Renoir, Pissarro, Bomberg and Beryl Cook. In the Eastern Art Gallery, you'll find ceramics, carvings and glass from ancient China and Japan probably the best collection outside of Asia.
Queen's Road, Bristol. Phone: 0117 922 3571 Visit website

Leeds City Art Gallery

Described by John Russell Taylor of The Times as probably the best collection of twentieth century British art outside London Leeds Art Gallery is an innovative and exciting place to visit. Classic and contemporary pieces from the likes of Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Atkinson Grimshaw, Bridget Riley and Francis Bacon are presented within a beautifully decorated building. The gallery's modern sculpture collection is second only to that of the Tate. The stunning caf, situated in the newly reconditioned Victorian Tiled Hall, is alone worth a visit.
The Headrow, Leeds, Yorkshire. Phone: 0113 247 8256 Visit website

The Lowry, Manchester

The glass and metallic surfaces of the Lowry Building are now an iconic symbol of the regeneration of Manchester docklands, designed to reflect the surrounding land and waterways. Not only is it a lively theatre presenting drama, opera, ballet, dance, and comedy, the Lowry also has enough gallery space for modern art exhibitions, alongside the works of LS Lowry, one of Britain's most popular artists. There's also a restaurant, cafes, and bars with impressive waterside views.
Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester. Phone: 0843 208 6000 Visit website

Dulwich Picture Gallery, London

England's first public art gallery is a beautiful building, housing a relatively small yet world-renowned collection of European old master paintings of the 1600s and 1700s. Works from Gainsborough, Rubens and Van Dyck sit alongside masterpieces from Rembrandt and Poussin. There's also a regularly changing programme of contemporary art shows. Visitors can enjoy a walk around the garden outside or sample the food in the elegant restaurant.
Gallery Road, Dulwich, London. Phone: 020 8693 5254 Visit website

Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

Recently awarded 250,000 for an upgrade, The Whitworth has one of the North West's greatest collections. With more than 50,000 objects, it is renowned for it's unique collection of wallpaper, textiles, watercolours and sculptures. The gallery features artists like Gaugin, Picasso, Turner, and more recent works by Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, William Blake and David Hockney. With an excellent cafe and small shop, it's the perfect place to unwind away from the bustle of the city.
Oxford Road, Manchester. Phone: 0161 275 7450 Visit website

The Tate, Liverpool

The gallery opened in 1988 in a converted warehouse within the Albert Dock, close to the City centre. The Tate Collection changes regularly, featuring the works of Andy Warhol, Salvador Dal, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Ren Magritte and many more. There's plenty for children to see and do. Visit the caf for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea with sophisticated lighting, designer furniture and stunning views of the Albert Dock. It's the perfect place for the whole family to relax, be inspired and have fun.
Albert Dock, Liverpool, Merseyside. Phone: 0151 702 7400 Visit website

Discovering new and old works of art can be a pleasurable and inspirational experience, and most of these exhibitions are absolutely free. Next time you have some spare time, why not visit an art gallery near you? As William Lever said at the opening of the Lady Lever Art Gallery in 1922, Art can be to everyone an inspiration. It is within the reach of all of us..."

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