Art Galleries in the UK
The UK has a long history of art and art collection, something that is reflected in the rich and diverse collections of the UK’s art galleries. The UK’s galleries are popular attractions, and have seen something of a renaissance in interest in recent years as the UK’s people seek to rediscover themselves through art. Lost for a time in the Seventies and Eighties as electronic and then digital technology stole the limelight, the names of the UK’s foremost galleries are once again an everyday part of the national vernacular.
The National Gallery, which stands proudly behind Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square, is home to works by such household names as Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Turner, Monet, Titian, and Caravaggio. The National's collection is constantly growing, and a new wing was built in the Eighties to meet the need for hanging space. This wing was famously called 'a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend' by Prince Charles, who disliked the way the modern design was juxtaposed with the neo-classical curves of National. This just goes to prove that architecture, like art, is a matter of personal taste.
The Tate group of galleries in London, Liverpool, Cornwall and online are incredibly popular, with Tate London on Millbank, and Tate Modern at Bankside seen as iconic London attractions. Tate Britain in London concentrates on work from 1500 to the present day, and includes works by Bacon, Blake and Nash.
Further down the Thames, Tate Modern, housed in the striking building of the former Bankside Power Station, deals with all aspects of modern, post-modern and contemporary art and is home to works by Picasso, Kapoor, Lichtenstein, Emin and Rothko, to name a few. Tate Liverpool deals with much the same subject matter as Tate Modern but on a much smaller scale, while Tate St Ives showcases works by artists from the west of the UK.
Just west of Tate Modern on London's South Bank the Hayward Gallery hosts many important exhibitions by contemporary artists, while the galleries in the Victoria and Albert and Imperial War museums also have impressive collections.
Outside of London, Manchester Art Gallery has extensive collections of fine, decorative and costume art, while the Lowry Centre concentrates on the works of early twentieth century artist L.S. Lowry, who painted industrial life in pre-war northern England. In Yorkshire the Leeds Art Gallery boasts one of the most impressive collections in the UK, while the Graves and Millennium galleries just down the M1 motorway in Sheffield also field a respectable showing of works.
Royal Academy of Arts
The Royal Academy of Arts is a venerated art institution based in the fine old Burlington House in Piccadilly, London. Its role is to encourage British art, and it does this by showing exhibitions, running an art school and by holding all sorts of events and lectures for its members - though these people do tend towards the conservative end of the art spectrum.
The Royal Academy was formed in 1768, under the patronage of George III. Its first president was Sir Joshua Reynolds, a dull academic painter but a critic of note, most famous for his championing of the then cheeky upstart JMW Turner - who blossomed under the Academy's tutelage, as did William Blake.
The Lowry - Manchester
The Lowry houses the largest collection of paintings by Manchester-based artist L.S. Lowry (1887 - 1976) whose famous and accessible works depict vignettes of life in the industrial North in the first half of the 20th century. The Lowry was opened in 2000 in Salford, Manchester, as the vanguard of the area's regeneration, and is a master-class in futuristic design and artistic interaction with the public, showcasing an ever-changing program of events and exhibitions in its galleries, theatres and studio space.
Tate Britain is the original gallery, and many would say still the best, in the Tate group, and remains at the forefront of world and British art hosting the annual and controversial Turner Prize. Tate Britain is also home to the largest collection of work by British artists anywhere in the world.
The gallery concentrates on work by British artists from 1500 to the present day and features works by Tracy Emin, William Blake, Francis Bacon, George Stubbs, John Constable, and Henry Moore. Tate Britain is also linked by speed boat from Millbank Millenium Pier, down the Thames to Tate Modern.
Tate Britain is a dynamic gallery and no two visits are ever the same, with new exhibitions, collection rotation, and initiatives for local communities and the young, Tate Britain always maintains a fresh feel, in grand Victorian surroundings.
The National Gallery
The National Gallery proudly overlooks London’s Trafalgar Square, with its portico and dome as synonymous with the location as Nelson’s Column. The National Gallery has over 2,300 pictures ranging from the mid-13th century to 1900, encompassing everything from Early Renaissance to Post-impressionism.
As a leading London and UK attraction, the National Gallery welcomes almost five million visitors a year.
The permanent collection at the National Gallery is impressive and enviable in its scope with many, if not most, of the big names from the pantheon of art well represented and exhibited.
As part of the National Gallery’s ethos of art for all, entry to the UK’s treasured art collection is free.
Tate Modern - UK Art Galleries
Formerly the Bankside Power Station, the Tate Modern’s imposing dark brick structure is home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of modern art, making it more than just a gallery - it is the UK’s national museum of modern art. Opened in 2000, Tate Modern has gone on to become one of the UK’s leading tourist attractions with millions passing through its five levels of galleries every year. . Home to works by leading lights such as Lichtenstein, Picasso, Warhol, Kapoor and Rothko, and with some of the most jaw-dropping installations of recent times in the five-storey Turbine Hall, Tate Modern is unlikely to disappoint even the most sceptical of art fans.