The best art galleries and museums in the UK
All around the world, the UK is famed for its breadth of historic and cultural attractions. In particular, the range of museums and galleries across the country attracts visitors from every corner of the globe.
The British Museum in London, for instance, saw 5.5 million people pass through its gates in 2012, with Tate Modern closely following with 5.3 million visitors. So if you’re planning a trip around the UK to visit vital national heritage, there’s plenty for you to see.
Galleries that you can’t miss
London is home to a number of the UK’s best galleries, though of course it’s not the only city to boast great artistic attractions. If you’ve never visited a London gallery before, start at Tate Modern. This stunning building on the South Bank is a renovated power station, and now contains several enticing floors of modern art. Its cavernous Turbine Hall frequently hosts installations too and entry is free, though special exhibitions require paid-for tickets.
For something a bit more traditional, head to the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. Nearly 200 years old, this treasured institution is home to thousands of paintings dating from medieval times to 1900 so covers some of art’s most exciting periods in history. Its collection includes great works of art by Rubens, Titian, Da Vinci, Turner and Vincent van Gogh’s iconic painting of sunflowers.
Head further north to Liverpool to see the treasures of the Walker Art Gallery, one of the most celebrated attractions in this great artistic city. And on the opposite coast, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead is a fabulous multi-level space for modern art, situated in an old flour mill.
Museums for all the family
Like many of the country’s leading art galleries, stand-out museums – like The British Museum – offer free general entry. The British Museum is the perfect day-out for families in London, offering a range of exhibits that will fascinate everyone from young children to grandparents. Another great destination for cultural families in London is South Kensington, where you’ll find the stunning National History Museum, the exquisite Science Museum and the enchanting Victoria and Albert Museum, all within a few minutes’ walk of one another.
The historic university town of Oxford is just a short journey from London and its Ashmolean Museum, specialising in art and archaeology, is a must-see. The Pitt Rivers Museum is another archaeological highlight in Oxford. In fact, some people might say that Oxford itself is a living museum – make sure you take the time to walk around the city and marvel at its historic buildings and colleges.
Hop on a train from Oxford to Edinburgh and there’s more to see still. The National Museum of Scotland recently underwent a years-long refurbishment and re-opened to rave reviews. It also offers free entry, and visitors gather in its main hall every hour to watch the machinations of its famous Gothic-style clock, designed by sculptor Eduard Bersudsky. Take a short journey west and you’ll find yourself in Glasgow. Here, the beautiful Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a lovely place to explore with friends and family.
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