editor’s note: London art is world class. Erasmus students, international students and all other students in London today’s top tip is: if you’re studying in London, check some of these places out. London art lover Diana Galloway, our guest writer of the week, gives you a short guide to the best museums in town.
What brings art students from everywhere in the world is London’s diversity. The array is so wide it’s really difficult to know where to begin and how to navigate it. So I’ve decided to wet your artistic appetite across the old, new and unusual local London art scenes, which all students in England need to see.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Close to the Imperial College, the Victoria and Albert Museum is the epitome of old, with objects dated as far back as 5000 years. The V&A, as it is known, is the largest museum in the world for decorative arts and design. It’s opulence and number of galleries can be overwhelming, possibly exhausting – but due to the number of events and activities they host, you’ll be encouraged to return. For example, no student in London should miss going to at least one late night Friday, where a DJ welcomes the weekend along with cocktails and events. The museum has a classy café and a garden that offers a rare tranquil experience in the very heart of this crazy city: these are great places to meet up with friends or on a first date! There is an art library which is great for those studying art (or related subjects) but can be used by anybody who fancies a change in their study location. Last but not least, there is a group called Create Voice dedicated to young people (aged 16 – 25), that offers creative workshops, gallery tours and other dedicated services.
To see what it’s got on, see the V&A museum’s website.
Next door to the Chelsea College of Arts, Tate Britain is an art gallery showcasing some of the finest works of British Art. Whether you enjoy sculpture, painting or photography, there is something here for you. But it’s not only the works of art that make Tate Britain great, it’s the building and its history. As you walk along to the main entrance there is evidence along the side of the building of bombing damage from World War II, for example. The Victorian architecture and attention to detail is evident everywhere and the site is placed on the grounds of an old gaol, the former Millbank prison.
Tate Britain keeps a great website which has all the information you need to know for current and future exhibits. To access the Tate Britain website click here.
Rook and Raven
Hidden away on a side street off Oxford street, one of the busiest streets in London, is the Rook and Raven. This gallery displays really great contemporary work of international artists. Rook and Raven is a small but spacious gallery with two floors. It is never very busy so sometimes you are the only visitor here. It’s a really interesting experience and a great opportunity to enjoy the pieces one by one.
This is the Rook and Raven’s website, go to their Contact page for a map of how to get there.
The Fourth Plinth is an exhibition space allowing for temporary exhibits from artists over a period of approximately 18 months on Trafalgar square (the one with Nelson’s column and the University of Notre Dame in London). Artists compete to display the work they believe Londoners should see.
Obviously, these are just some of the hundreds of London art museums and galleries. There are so many really, really spectacular ‘unmissable’ spots that you’ll never make time with your busy student life to see them all. But they’re some favourites and a great place to start if you want to put a little art in your London student experience.
(Photo credits: Thank you Diana Galloway for your amazing photos of Rook and Raven and Tate Britain)
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