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GUildhall Art Gallery

Address

Guildhall Art Gallery
Guildhall Yard
​London EC2V 5AE

Contact us

Accessibility

The Gallery is fully accessible.

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday
10am - 5pm
Sunday
12pm - 4pm

Christmas and New Year Opening Hours
25 December CLOSED
26 December CLOSED
1 January CLOSED

​The Gallery shows a changing display of about 250 artworks from its collection of paintings, drawings and sculpture, in addition to a programme of temporary exhibitions. The Gallery is also responsible for significant works of art held elsewhere including the monuments in the Guildhall, statues in the Old Bailey and further sculptures and the Harold Samuel Collection of 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings at Mansion House, the Lord Mayor's residence.

Over 6000 images and records available online

Admission Free*

*Exceptions

  • Fees may be charged for some temporary exhibitions (concessions available).
  • Members of the Art Fund receive a 50% discount to temporary exhibitions.
  • All exhibitions are free for members of Museums Association, Friends of Guildhall Art Gallery, under 12s and City residents (with proof of address).

Permanent exhibits

​Victorian paintings

A rich variety of Victorian paintings can be seen as you enter the Gallery, displayed in original 19th century style. The collections illustrate the key artistic movements and influences of the Victorian period, from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, to Orientalism, Classicism and narrative painting.

Pictures of London

The Gallery's collection of London paintings opens a window onto unusual, memorable and colourful scenes from the city's history. Dating from the 17th century onwards, they provide a vivid record of events including The Great Fire of London in 1666 and the opening of Tower Bridge in 1894. Street and crowd scenes capture the look and feel of city life, showing Londoners gathering to watch the Lord Mayor's Show, rushing down Fleet Street, or partying on public holidays.

Short notice closures

The Gallery occassionally needs to close at short notice. For details, call 020 7332 3700 / textphone 020 7332 3803 for a daily recorded message or for more information.

Temporary exhibitions

Architectural drawing of a bridge across the Thames

The London That Never Was

Explore some of the most intriguing proposals and plans for buildings and infrastructure that were never made. Sometimes serious considerations, sometimes fanciful exercises into the art of the possible, they imagine a city where Tower Bridge is clad in glass and a colossal burial pyramid looms over Primrose Hill. On display 6 September - 8 December 2019.


The Gallery's history

The first Guildhall Art Gallery was built in 1885 to display the City of London Corporation's growing art collection. The project was inspired by the success of new galleries supported by local authorities in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. It aimed to cater to an 'increased taste for Art' evident in Victorian society. Under the dynamic leadership of its first Director, Alfred Temple, the Gallery ran a series of popular and influential exhibitions and expanded its collection of contemporary 19th century paintings.

The Victorian gallery was almost entirely destroyed by fire during a severe air raid of the Second World War on 10 May 1941. Large parts of the collection had been removed to underground storage in Wiltshire, together with those of other London museums and galleries, but 164 paintings, drawings, watercolours and prints and 20 sculptures were lost. A temporary structure was built on the cleared site in 1946 for use as a ceremonial venue and exhibition space. Selected pieces from the collection and art society shows went on display. The City organised two annual exhibitions, The Lord Mayor’s Art Award and the City of London Art Exhibition, in addition to a series of major loan exhibitions between 1952 and 1972 on topics including Canaletto in England, David Roberts, Samuel Scott and Sir James Thornhill.

In 1985 the City decided to redevelop the site and add a new Gallery on its lower levels. The architect was Richard Gilbert Scott, who had earlier worked on the Guildhall restoration and designed the new Guildhall Library and West Wing of 1974. In 1987 the remains of the original Gallery were demolished. Shortly afterwards the Museum of London Archaeological Service discovered the remains of London's Roman Amphitheatre and the building was re-designed to incorporate this astounding piece of architectural history. The new Guildhall Art Gallery finally opened to the public in August 1999 and the Amphitheatre in 2002. In late 2014, coinciding with the 15th anniversary of its re-opening, the Gallery underwent a re-hang, doubling the number of paintings on display and presenting a new curatorial selection.


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