The 5 most inspiring cultural centres

1) Institute for Contemporary Arts

The ICA is a multi-disciplinary venue that has been promoting radical art and culture since it opened in 1946. There are exhibitions of conceptual and modern art (including the annual Bloomberg New Contemporaries show), two cinemas showing arthouse and experimental filmmaking, cutting edge live music and DJ performances, as well as talks and discussions.

art installation at ICA

2) Rich Mix

Housed in a former leather factory between Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, Rich Mix promotes a broad range of multicultural artistic activities. There are three cinemas showing arthouse and blockbuster films and multiple flexible performance spaces that stage theatre, talks, art exhibitions, comedy and a wide and eclectic range of music from around the world.

exterior of Rich Mix centre

35-47 Bethnal Green Road, East

+44 (0)20 7613 7498

3) Barbican Centre

The Barbican building is a Brutalist architectural icon in itself. Its arts centre is one of the best venues for classical music and stages exciting contemporary, jazz and world concerts too. There’s also a theatre, cinema complex and a large art exhibition space, as well as restaurants, shops and cafes. Architectural tours are available and the secluded outside courtyard space by the lake is magical.

garden at Barbican Centre

4) British Library

The national library is under-rated as a cultural venue. The Treasures Gallery houses wonders including the Magna Carta, Gutenberg’s bible, Beatles lyrics and Leonardo da Vinci manuscripts. Special exhibitions have featured subjects as diverse as punk music, cartography, comics and Lewis Carroll. They run a busy programme of events, concerts, discussions, and classes.

exterior of British Library building

96 Euston Road, Bloomsbury

+44 (0)20 7412 7332

5) The House of St Barnabas

This Grade I-listed Georgian building in Soho, complete with stunningly ornate interiors, bar and chapel, is home to a non-profit private members club and has been run as a charity for the homeless since 1862. They organise an extensive program of public cultural events that includes various micro-festivals, exhibitions, live music and DJ nights and talks and classes, featuring the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Andrew Weatherall, Ekow Eshun and Martin Creed.

art at House of St Barnabas


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