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The Independent Names the 50 Best Museums & Galleries in the UK

Sunday 24th October 2010

With the UK culture industry looking at how to cope with 30% budget cuts, The Independent has listed the 50 best museums and galleries that can be found on the British Isles. Taking a look at the 10 galleries and museums that were selected to sit at the head of the list is enough to see some of the great institutions that represent the British art market and its heritage. While the top ten can be said to be mostly predictable (and London-based), there are a couple of great regional underdogs listed in there.
 
The run down looks something like this:
 
1) The British Museum
 
A true gem in the crown of the UK culture scene, the British Museum is a great venue that has a smart blend of important historical displays and interesting art exhibitions, all housed in a building that sees a mesh of classic and contemporary architecture. 
 
2) The Victoria and Albert Museum
 
The V&A is another brilliant museum that brings some great art and design exhibitions to the British public. Located in South Kensington in London, the V&A claims that its purpose is "to enable everyone to enjoy its collections, explore the cultures that created them and to inspire those who shape contemporary design." 
 
3) Whitechapel Gallery
 
Founded in 1901 in East London, the Whitechapel Gallery is one of the leading establishments in the UK offering top class international exhibitions in both contemporary and 20th century art. The gallery seamlessly pulls together some of the greats like  Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo, right up to contemporary stars like Jake and Dinos Chapman and Elizabeth Peyton. More than just a gallery, Whitechapel stands out as a centre of a vibrant art community offering artist commissions, a stunning collection, historical archives, art courses and a great resource for anyone interested in the arts.
 
4) White Cube
 
Another typical superstar in the roster of top UK galleries, the White Cube was set up in 1993 by Jay Jopling as a project room for contemporary art. When it was founded it was said to be one of the smallest exhibition spaces in Europe, but that hasn't stopped it from becoming a genuine leader in the contemporary art world.
 
5) Tate Modern
 
Of all of the Tates, Tate Modern was selected for the 5th position on the list. Granted that the whole franchise has a great deal to offer, Tate Modern has a brilliant mix of terrific gallery spaces, amongst which we can include the famous Turbine Hall, and a consistently great exhibition programme. On the South Banks of the Thames, Tate Modern is certainly one of best galleries in the UK, if not the world.
 
6) National Museum of Scotland
 
Stepping away from London for just a second, and heading up to Scotland. Often overlooked as a great arts destination, Scotland powers into the top 10 with the National Museum of Scotland. Offering an inspiring rota of cultural exhibitions that take visitors far beyond the reaches of the Scottish borders. 
 
7) Serpentine Gallery
 
To complete the line up of top London galleries that deal in contemporary art, the Serpentine Gallery is yet another instance of a venue that has a top class programme of exhibitions. Located in Kensington Gardens and attracting up to 800,000 visitors a year, the gallery is a must-see on any art tour of London or the UK. Currently on view is an exhibition of work by Anish Kapoor.  
 
8) Science Museum, London
 
Fun and educational for all of the family, the Science Museum was founded in 1857 as part of the South Kensington Museum before gaining its independence in 1909. Now the museum is world renowned for its historic collections, stunning building and terrific exhibitions. 
 
9) Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
 
The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts has a great collection of fine and decorative arts and is home to the UEA collection of Abstract and Constructivist art and design. The collection is built up from a donation of art the University of East Anglia in 1973 by Sir Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury. The Sainsbury Centre then opened to the public in 1978 and remains one of the hundred or so university museums around the UK that are open for public view. 
 
10) BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
 
Heading out of London again, BALTIC is a leading establishment for contemporary art in the North of England. Located in Gateshead on the banks of the River Tyne, BALTIC has spent the last 10 years building a name for itself as a leader on the  contemporary art scene, providing an ever changing calendar of events and exhibitions to provoke discussion and add to the current discourse.
 
For a full list of the 50 museums and galleries selected by The Independent to represent the UKs offerings, visit the article on The Independent website.

Posted on October 24th 2010 on 06:54pm
Labels: galleries

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