Lesser known art galleries and museums of London

London is a city that is home to some of the finest museums and art galleries in the world. They are out of the most visited attractions in London and attract record numbers of visitors every year. If you are a culture buff then a visit to London’s iconic museums and art galleries is highly recommended. With museums like the British Museum, The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum to name just a few of the major attractions, it is a treasure trove to explore.

To ensure that you get to see most of the top galleries and museums in London, it is best to stay at a hotel in city centre. Most of them are to be found in Central London. And in terms of accommodation you have some of the finest London boutique hotels also located in the area.

One such luxury boutique hotel popular with visitors and tourists alike is the Montcalm Hotel London.  It offers premium facilities, excellent customer service and is located within the heart of the city. If you are done with visiting the prominent attractions in London and want to go off the beaten path, there are lesser known museums and art galleries that are as captivating to explore. These include the following:

The William Morris Gallery:  The gallery is located in a stately Grade II-listed Georgian house and served as the home of William Morris an immensely talented artist and designer who is considered to be the father of the arts and crafts movement in Britain. He stayed on the property with family members from 1834 to 1896. Now the property is home to a gallery and a museum that celebrates the life and legacy and exhibits his finest creations.

It opened in 1950 to the public with Queen Mary being one of its first visitors. In fact George V had given Morris & Co a Royal Warrant for their contributions during the 1911 Coronation. In 2012, a £5 million refurbishment project was executed. Now it is a genuine world-class attraction and has even won the prestigious Museum of the Year for 2013. Its permanent collection exhibits a variety of items and objects related to Morris’s life and also the founding of the Arts and Crafts movement. There is space dedicated to contemporary exhibitions which are innovatively presented.  The top floor houses a research and learning centre, while the ground and first floor exhibits its new and contemporary collection.

Visitors are amazed by the incredible collection of drawings, ceramics, metalwork, stained glass and textiles which are exhibited in the museum. What makes William Morris such a rare talent was that he had no formal training in the fine arts, which also lead to his family being in shock, when he stated that he planned to dedicate his life to art. Morris was deeply influenced by Pre-Raphaelite artists, with every gallery in the museum having artwork that focuses on this connection with them.  Also upon the property is a portion that is dedicated to one of the founders of the gallery, Frank Brangwyn.  Frank had served as an apprentice under Morris and went on to become a successful artist in his own right, with pieces of his art on display at the gallery. While at the gallery do not miss visiting the embroidery exhibit of May (Morris’s daughter) who earned acclaim as a designer in her own right.

Dulwich Picture Gallery: The gallery is situated in the rustic charming surroundings of Dulwich Village in south-east London. The gallery design was the brainchild of Sir John Soane a Regency architect and was opened to the public in 1817. It is one of the oldest public art galleries in the country.  It has a fabulous collection of Old Masters that includes art creations by masters like Canaletto, Poussin, Rembrandt, Rubens and Gainsborough among other greats.

Leighton House Museum: The Leighton House Museum located in Holland Park has been attracting the public to its property from 1929. It was built as a residence in 1864, for one of the most celebrated artists of the Victorian era, Lord Leighton. Its architect was the equally famous George Aitchinson, who came up with the brilliant idea of having its interiors designed ornately in Orient fashion. Later in 1879, a two storied hall named the Arab Hall was added to the property. The Arab hall looks so authentic in appearance that is seems to have been brought directly from the Middle East. There is a permanent collection of fine art that has works by Burne-Jones and Millais and visitors can also take a tour of Leighton’s art studio.

Horniman Museum and Gardens: It was created in 1801, by Frederick John Horniman a philanthropist, who was fabulously wealthy having inherited from his father’s very prosperous Horniman’s Tea business. It is located in the south-east of London and has an eclectic display of natural history as well as anthropological artefacts. Visitors are amazed   to see unusual instruments, an aquarium and a number of taxidermied animals among other unusual items.

Chiswick House: One of the best examples of neo-Palladian architecture Chiswick House is set amidst scenic parkland in the west of London. It was built by the Earl of Burlington in 1729. It is home to a fabulous art collection that features art creations by Rysbrack and its elaborate interiors are designed by William Kent. Another popular attraction is its magnificent Italianate classical gardens that have served as inspiration for other gardens. Chiswick House was once the residence of the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana who fondly called it “my earthly paradise”.

Kenwood House: Hampstead Heath in the north of the city is known for its fantastic landscape and magnificent vistas. Kenwood House is located on its fringes. The property was first constructed in the 17th century, which later underwent a complete transformation at the hands of Robert Adam, who created a stunning neoclassical villa for the First Earl of Mansfield, William Murray. It houses an impressive collection of paintings that includes art work by the Dutch Masters Vermeer and Rembrandt.

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