The UK hosts some of the finest art galleries and museums in the world, and best of all, their permanent collections are free to visit. Ideal for days out throughout the year, they can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Here’s a selection of our favourites around the country. Oh, and here’s a top tip: go to the gift shop first, and you will see postcards of many exhibits. This way you won’t miss any classic or unusual pieces on show.
One of the most famous museums in the world, the Tate Britain has the largest collection of British art in the UK, with pieces from the 1500s to modern artists such as Damien Hirst and Francis Bacon. Tate Britain also has the world’s largest Turner collection. The Tate Modern, its sister gallery in the old Bankside Power Station on the River Thames is a visual icon in itself.
The Kelvingrove is the most visited museum outside of London, and houses one of the largest armour collections in the world, as well as a truly impressive art collection including work by Salvador Dali. Natural history buffs can get their fill here with dinosaur and prehistoric animal exhibits, and there’s even a Spitfire hanging from the ceiling!
If you’ve always wanted to see the works of great masters such as Van Gogh, Leonardo Da Vinci and Botticelli, then you’ll want to head to the National Gallery. Founded in 1824, it’s one of the most visited art museums in the world, showcasing works from some of the most influential artists to have ever lived.
Named after the artist L. S. Lowry (famous for his industrial scenes and matchstick men) this quayside complex in Manchester is an art gallery and theatre that regularly host events, shows, interactive exhibitions and workshops. The Lowry brings art to a new audience and a modern age with regular activities for all the family.
Named after Barbara Hepworth, the sculptor who grew up the city, this gallery features an extensive collection of 20th century art including works by Hepworth and Henry Moore, who also lived here. The Hepworth opened in 2011 to international acclaim, with its stern exterior beautifully offset by the natural curve of the River Calder.
The Ashmolean is the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology with collections from Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. The pieces are designed to tell human stories from across the world. Highlights include the Alfred Jewel, samurai armour and pieces by Pissarro, Manet and Turner. There’s also a lovely rooftop café.
The University of Cambridge’s museum of art and antiquities that is home to some 1700 paintings from the 13th to the 21st century, including works by Delacroix, Titian, Canaletto, Augustus John, Constable and Monet. Other collections include armour and arms, literary manuscripts, textiles and Islamic arts.