From the weird to the whimsical, there are so many lesser known galleries in London. How many have you visited?
While we love timeless galleries like the Tate and National Gallery, they can be overrun with tourists and the last place you want to spend your Saturday afternoon. Why not consider the lesser known galleries? London is home to an impressive collection of smaller galleries, many of which are hiding in plain sight. If you’re ready to see the wonderful, whimsical world of London galleries, then join us on the road less traveled. Here are 20 galleries you need to add to your London bucket list:
1. Cabinet Gallery
Standing in the corner of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens next door to the Vauxhall City Farm, Cabinet Gallery harks back to Vauxhall’s vibrant arts and entertainment past. Opened in 2016, the art actually begins before you walk inside. Various artists contributed design elements to the facade of the 5-story, 12-sided building made of handmade-bricks. Refusing to conform to art world conventions, their exhibits and roster of artists solidifies an enigmatic yet distinct identity.
Antonin Artaud: Cahiers de Rodez et d’Ivry, 15 Feb – 6 Apr
123 Tyers St, Vauxhall Gardens London SE11 5HS
2. Migration Museum at the Workshop
Yes, it’s on the other side of the river, but it’s well worth the hop, skip and jump to Lambeth High Street to visit the Migration Museum. Dedicated to documenting and exploring the movement of people to and from Britain over the years, the Migration Museum brings new perspective to a city shaped by immigrants. Get plugged into interactive exhibitions, events and educational workshops.
Room to Breathe, is an interactive exhibition inviting you to discover stories from generations of arrivals to Britain. Journey through a series of rooms where you can create, watch, listen, open drawers, look through cupboards and contribute your story to an ongoing discussion about migrating to a new home. On until summer 2019.
26 Lambeth High Street, Lambeth, SE1 7AG
3. Newport Street Gallery
While you’re in Lambeth, boogie on over to Damien Hirst’s gallery on Newport Street which houses his private art collection. Featured artists include Banksy, Sarah Lucas, Jeff Koons, as well as natural history specimens including taxidermy, and anatomical models. Hungry or not, don’t you dare leave that gallery without experiencing Pharmacy 2, Hirst’s pharmacy themed restaurant and bar. Down to the minutest detail you feel like you’ve tumbled into a medicine dreamland.
John Bellany and Alan Davie: Cradle of Magic, 27 Feb- 2 Jun
Newport Street, SE11 6AJ
4. Jealous East
Next time you hit up the BoxPark in Shoreditch swing into this contemporary gallery, print publisher and printing studio on Curtain Road. Best known for producing high quality limited edition prints with many artists, galleries, designers and museums. The cherry on top? All of the prints are for sale, but if you don’t have £500 to casually drop on a Magda Archer print you can make interest free payments via Own Art; which is an Arts Council funded scheme designed to make buying art easy and affordable. Cheers to that!
Upcoming: Frea Buckler Solo Show, 9 May- 30 May
53 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3PT
5. Now Gallery
Looking for something to do after your visit to the O2 to make your trek to Greenwich Peninsula worth it? Stop into Now Gallery for contemporary art, fashion, photography and design from both established and emerging artists and designers. Look forward to ambitious, interactive site-specific commissions such as Camille Walala’s WALALA X PLAY and Harmonics In Space by Fred Butler.
Studio Morison will create a sculptural space containing a library of children’s fiction written by adult fiction authors, named after the children’s book The Mouse and his Child by Russel Hoban. The library will become a place to discuss, discover, listen and read. The Mouse and his Child, 28 Feb- 28 Apr
The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square, SE10 0SQ
6. Stolen Space Gallery
Literally a few steps away from the more well-known Whitechapel Gallery you can find this unsuspecting art gallery at the end of Brick Lane. Catering to the street art and underground art scene, Stolen Space gallery brings the grungy angst of urban street artists into this alternative home. Visitors can engage with the artist’s discourse on societal subcultures in a different context than street art is normally consumed.
Finding North, Jamie Molina. New work featuring mixed-media paintings, sculptures, and murals in his unique recognisable style. Opens 2 Aug
17 Osborn St E1 6TD
7. Getty Images Gallery
Peel away from the hustle and bustle on Oxford Circus by walking just a few paces down Great Titchfield Street to find the Getty Images Gallery. Although Getty Images is a big name in photography, their small gallery space in London is the perfect retreat from zone 1 madness to zoom into another era, country or life one frame at a time. Their archive holds millions of negatives, prints and transparencies from the 1850s to the present day covering everything from fashion to celebrities, and sports to social documentary.
Upcoming: Bijoux: Jewels from the Archive. Curated exhibition featuring 40 plus images by photographers such as Thurston Hopkins, Terry Fincher, Slim Aarons, Kurt Hutton, Bert Hardy and many others. (Online exhibition)
46 Eastcastle St, W1W 8DX
8. Gallery, Oxo Tower
When the sun is shining and the sky is blue, we have a lovely itinerary for an evening out in Southbank. Before heading up to Rumpus Room for some prime sips and views check out the display in Gallery @Oxo. Nestled in with all the other little shops on the ground floor, this prestigious exhibition space showcases the best photography, contemporary design, architecture and issue-based exhibitions. Available for hire, you can even apply to display your work there.
Upcoming: An exhibition of captivating portraits celebrating the lives of those affected by Congenital Melanocytic Naevi (CMN). How Do You C Me Now?, 14 Mar – 24 Mar
204 Oxo Tower Wharf Bargehouse St, Southbank, SE1 9PH
9. Wren London
39 Featherstone Street, EC1Y 8RE
A brand new photographic gallery opened in 2018 in Old Street Wren acknowledges and references the ever-evolving East London art and design movement that surrounds the gallery both geographically and aesthetically.
Upcoming: Navigate, Paul Thompson, 21 Mar – 17 May
10. Soft Opening
For this next gallery, we actually need to go underground. Soft Opening is the brainchild of art dealer and curator Antonia Marsh who pondered what it would be like to put a gallery in a tube station. Only a few meters from the barriers at Piccadilly Circus station, Soft Opening is enmeshed in a space of flux and transport. The gallery itself is actually just a shop window featuring a rotation of emerging and established artists. Subversive in its own right, this (literally) underground gallery challenges the traditional spaces and times in which one can display and observe a work of art.
Piccadilly Circus Underground Station
11. Block 336
Just a 7 minute walk from Brixton tube station, Block 336 is an artist-run project space founded as a registered charity in 2011. Committed to making contemporary art more accessible to all, they host talks, workshops, performances and tours open to the public. Block 336 also provides an inviting space for artists to create new site specific work that they may not be able to realise elsewhere.
Process Accelerator 2.0, Anu Suhonen. A large-scale installation by the Finland-based artist, comprising video and 3D printed sculptural objects. 9 Feb – 9 Mar
336 Brixton Road SW9 7AA
12. The Dot Project
Fresh talent. Timeless art. The Dot Project is more than an art space; it’s a powerful concept devoted to nurturing the next generation of art collectors as well as the artists who inspire them. The Dot Project provides a test bed for young artists to exhibit in a dynamic space. Note: it is by appointment only so be sure to ring them beforehand to view the work during your next visit to Notting Hill.
Terencio González, Ralph Hunter-Menzies, Daniel Jensen: Sleep On the Wind. 28 Feb – 30 Apr, by appointment only
Ladbroke Grove W11 3BG
13. Parasol Unit
Founded in 2004 by art historian Dr. Ziba Ardalan, the Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art is a not-for-profit that is known for putting artists on the map and launching the careers of many emerging artists. Go for the art stay for the creative events and workshops.
The Korea-based artist makes her European debut with her explosive and socially challenging paintings and sculptures. Hyon Gyon, ends 31 Mar
14 Wharf Road, N1 7RW
14. Museum of Brands
Lined wall-to-wall with a seemingly endless collection of over 12,000 original wrappers, toys, posters, boxes and general collectibles, the Museum of Brands documents British consumer culture from the Victorian era to the present.
Can Marketing Save Lives?, ends 26 May
111-117 Lancaster Road, W11 1QT
15. House of Illustration
Located in the heart of London, the House of Illustration was founded in 2014 by Sir Quentin Blake (best known for illustrating books written by Roald Dahl) as the UK’s premiere gallery dedicated to illustration and the graphic arts. As well as exhibits and installations, visitors can also engage with the world of illustration by attending workshops, talks, screenings and events.
Power Up, Corita Kent. The UK’s largest ever show of work by the pop artist, activist, and nun. 8 Feb- 12 May
2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4BH
16. Strawberry Hill House
Horace Walpole’s gothic castle is proudly perched on a lush plot of land in Twickenham, London. It serves as the perfect 18th century showcase for his collection of curious, antiquarian objects. Spend a little time and soak up some rays or have a picnic in the romantic five-acre garden.
Strawberry Hill House is currently closed and but you can book tickets for their Spring Season when the house re-opens on the 1 April 2019.
268 Waldegrave Rd, Twickenham, TW1 4ST
17. William Morris Gallery
Housed in an exquisite Georgian building, the William Morris Gallery is the only one in Britain dedicated to the leader of the Arts and Crafts movement. William Morris lived in the building that houses the gallery from 1848-1856 with his widowed mother and 8 siblings. Explore the internationally-acclaimed collection and learn more about his creative genius and that of his collaborators.
Cultural Revolution: State graphics in China from 1960s-1970s. 23 Feb- 27 May
Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, E17 4PP
18. Camden Arts Centre
In addition to gallery spaces the Camden Arts Centre also offers classes in ceramics, painting, drawing and writing. For over 50 years this non-profit organisation continues to involve the public in the discourse and practice of contemporary art through, talks, projects, classes and exhibits.
Crone Music, Beatrice Gibson. Two new interconnected films by British artist Beatrice Gibson. Ends 31 Mar
Arkwright Road, NW3 6DG
19. Dulwich Picture Gallery
Designed by architect Sir John Soane (who’s house of antiquities in Holborn is well worth the visit), this is England’s oldest public art gallery. A significant collection of 17th and 18th century works by European Old Masters awaits you through the stately doors.
And Then The World Changed Color: Breathing Yellow, Mariele Neudecker. New works commissioned inspired by the dense birch trees of Norway forests creating 3D living landscapes submerged underwater. 13 Feb- 2 Jun
Gallery Road SE21 7AD
20. Museum of Happiness
Ease on down the road to the Museum of Happiness (yes, that’s the real name) and learn the science and psychology behind happiness. Through a variety of interactive experiences, workshops and events they offer science-based techniques to help you implement happiness into your everyday. You can even get certified to teach happiness. Only open on Fridays, #TGIF!
46 Acres, 66 Leonard Street, EC2A 4LW
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