The 5 best small galleries
1) Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dulwich opened in 1817 as the world’s first purpose-built public gallery. The permanent collection is of Old Master paintings from France, Italy and Spain. Artists represented include Rembrandt, Poussin, Rubens, Canaletto and Gainsborough. They have excellent exhibitions with recent artists including M.C. Escher, Emily Carr and Nikolai Astrup.
Founded in 1901 with the aim of bringing art to the people of east London, Whitechapel has a reputation for hosting important exhibitions by international contemporary artists. Recent shows include exhibitions on John Stezaker, Sarah Lucas and Emily Jacir. There’s an excellent bookshop run by German booksellers Koenig and a restaurant overseen by Angela Hartnett.
3) Wallace Collection
Grand and historic Hertford House has held the Wallace Collection since 1897. Over 25 galleries display fine and decorative artefacts from the 15th to 19th centuries, with paintings by Titian, Boucher, Van Dyk, Rubens and Velázquez, as well as armour, porcelain, miniatures and furniture. The courtyard has been enclosed with a glass roof and houses a restaurant and cafe.
4) Camden Arts Centre
Founded in 1965 and housed in a former public library, this north London gallery exhibits an innovative and inspiring programme of international contemporary art that often focuses on emerging talents. Recent shows have included Kara Walker and Rose English. There’s a bookshop, cafe and garden space too.
5) Newport Street Gallery
This exciting new art space opened in 2015 to display selected works from Damien Hirst’s art collection, which includes artists as varied as Bacon, Koons, Emin, Banksy and Turk as well as taxidermy and anatomical specimens. The building, a converted warehouse designed by Caruso St John, is elegant with large galleries and high ceilings. Do not exit through the gift shop – it’s separate to the galleries, and the only place you’ll see Hirst’s own works on site.
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