How to find contemporary art in London

I spend a lot of time wandering around contemporary art galleries in London.

I already have some favourite art galleries that I return to every time I’m in the city, such as Marlborough Gallery and Unite Gallery, but I also like to search for new galleries and always find more interesting art spaces.

The abundance of art galleries and events in London can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

You’re likely to hear about major exhibitions at the famous museums in London. You’ve probably heard about the main contemporary art venues in London, such as Saatchi Gallery, Hayward Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, and Tate Modern.

But there are hundreds of small and medium-sized contemporary art galleries in London that can easily go under the radar, running tons of fascinating art events every week.

How can you keep up with all the openings, tours, pop-ups, art fairs, lectures, and all sorts of other art events in London?

I wrote this guide to help you do that. The guide includes the best resources I use to stay up to date with the dynamic London art scene.

Find any art event in London

Seb’s Art List is a user-friendly and truly valuable resource for art lovers.

The site will keep you updated on all kinds of art-related events in London, such as exhibition openings, talks, studio tours, degree shows, and quite a few more.

It requires you to sign up to access the information, but it’s free.

Once you have an account, you’ll see a few categories that you can start exploring.

I love gallery talks, so I use the Talks & Tours category the most.

There are some super handy features that make the user experience on Seb’s Art List just wonderful:

  • You can add listings to your favourites;
  • For each listing there’s some basic info plus a link to more info;
  • You can see each gallery on the map;
  • You can even add an event to your calendar directly from the site.

I think this is one of the best resources on contemporary art in London, because you have all the info you need in one place and everything is clear, easy to use, and works smoothly.

Use the London gallery map

London contemporary art gallery map
Screenshot from the London Gallery Weekend website

The London Gallery Weekend website has an interactive gallery map.

It highlights many different types of art spaces to discover around London.

You can filter by the part of the city you want to see (west, central, east, south) and plan a route easily.

In a massive city like London, grouping galleries by area is pretty essential, so you don’t waste too much time on moving around.

Even if you’re not in London during the London Gallery Weekend itself, you can still make use of the map at any time of the year.

Just remember to check which galleries are open before you visit.

Take a curated tour

You can take a guided tour around some of the main contemporary art galleries and auction houses in London.

While most art tours in London are held at the city’s famous art venues, such as the British Museum, Tate Modern, or the National Gallery, I found a couple of more specialised tours that focus on the contemporary art scene:

  • The Galleries of London Tour – An expert local art guide takes you to see some of the most prominent galleries in Mayfair.
  • The London Auction Houses Tour – The guide takes you on a tour of famous auction houses, such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s. You’ll get an insight into how the London art market works.

Read art reviews

London Art Roundup is a great place to find reviews of the latest exhibitions in London.

The London Art Roundup site and newsletter are run by an art lover who shares his passion by reviewing exhibitions, venues, and artists.

I enjoy his writing style. It’s informal and engaging, and can make you feel like you’re in the gallery with him.

He gives you a personal perspective, as well as the details you need to plan your visit to the exhibition.

On the What’s On page, you can see what exhibitions are closing soon.

FAD magazine has a great art news section with reviews of the latest exhibitions.

It’s a good source for interviews, previews, openings, and guides to exhibitions by month.

Time Out London has an art section with very accessible info on new and upcoming exhibitions. The reviews are mostly short and informative.

TIP: I usually save reviews for offline reading on apps like Pocket or Instapaper and read them on the tube.

Use the Art Fund and Art Pass

Art fund - museums in the UK

You can use the Art Fund website to find listings of art spaces and current exhibitions in the UK.

The site is well-organised and lets you filter your search results, see lists of exhibitions by month, and read interviews and reviews.

The Art Fund has a membership card called the National Art Pass. If you just want to browse the website to get an idea of what’s on, you can do that without buying the Art Pass. However, I highly recommend getting the pass.

It grants you free entry or discounts at museums, galleries, and historic houses. It pays for itself very quickly.

Apart from saving me (a lot of) money on my visit to London last summer, I found that having the pass encouraged me to go out and explore more art spaces and heritage sites, including ones I’d never heard of…

It’s valid outside of London as well, so you can use it when you travel around the UK, or on day trips from London. I used mine all over London, as well as on a day trip to Brighton.

If you’re visiting London for a short time and want to see a lot of art, you can get the 3-month trial membership. There are also options for students, teachers, under 30s, etc.

I hope these resources help you plan an art-inspired trip to London.

If you’d like to recommend more resources on how to find contemporary art in London, feel free to add them in the comments.

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