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An accessible guide to London’s best art galleries

7th January 2020


London is full of incredible art galleries, with people coming from all over the country and the world to see them. From modern masterpieces to classics of times gone by, there is so much choice for art lovers. But how accessible are the capital’s best galleries? After all, not everyone has the same level of mobility. This guide will take a look at what’s available, presenting some of the must-visits, detailing their accessibility for those who have installed a stairlift at home, and letting potential visitors know what they can look forward to seeing.

Tate Modern

Accessibility at the Tate Modern

  • 12 accessible parking spaces
  • Lifts available on each level
  • All entrances are accessible for wheelchairs
  • Wheelchairs and mobility scooters available
  • Accessible toilets located on every floor
  • Seats and benches throughout the galleries
  • Assistance dogs are welcome

Full information here.

What to expect at the gallery

The Tate Modern is one of the most famous art galleries in the world and a true gem of the modern UK art scene. Its collection of modern and contemporary art has to be seen to be believed, attracting millions of visitors each and every year. Situated on the banks of the Thames, the Tate Modern gives visitors the chance to see treasures from artists like Damien Hirst and Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman. Combine that with exciting events and temporary exhibitions, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Tiffany, from the travel blog A Girl and Her Passport, has enjoyed visiting the Tate Modern herself and recommends the following for visitors: “The Tate Modern is a must-see museum when visiting London. If modern art isn't your thing, the architecture and the views from the building are definitely worth seeing. The art is varied, and everyone can find something they are interested in. My tip for visiting is to make sure you visit the 3rd-floor smoking terrace outside the gift shop as you get a great view of St. Paul's Cathedral from there.”

The Wallace Collection

Image credit: Diary of a Londoness

Accessibility at The Wallace Collection

  • Fully wheelchair accessible
  • Step-free access into the building
  • Lift available
  • Step-free access inside the gallery
  • Remote control door access available
  • Accessible toilet

Further information here and access review here.

What to expect at the gallery

Located in beautiful 19th-century Hertford House, The Wallace Collection is an impressive art gallery and the former home of Sir Richard Wallace. Today, visitors can enjoy the family’s magnificent collection of artistic treasures, featuring a stunning selection of works by some of history’s greatest painters. Rubens and Rembrandt are two of the collection’s stars, along with the beloved ‘Laughing Cavalier’ by Frans Hals.

Scarlett, from the London lifestyle blog Diary of a Londoness, enjoyed visiting The Wallace Collection herself and has commented on what delights people can look forward to: “The Wallace Collection in Marylebone is one of London’s museum gems. It is stuffed full of extraordinary treasures stockpiled by the 4th Marquess of Hertford which he bequeathed to his illegitimate son, Richard Wallace. Upon his death, Wallace’s widow left the entire house and its contents to the nation.

“The prodigious art collection includes paintings by Rembrandt, Reynolds, Rubens, Van Dyck, Canaletto, Gainsborough and Titian, to name a few. It has the most important selection of eighteenth-century Sèvres porcelain in the world, an arms and armour department on the ground floor and a charming assortment of miniatures and snuff boxes. The Wallace also has one of the world’s largest displays of Marie Antoinette’s personal items, including a spectacular desk.”

The National Gallery


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Accessibility at the National Gallery

  • Discounts available for disabled visitors for special exhibitions
  • Carers enter free of charge
  • Four entrances with level access
  • Main entrance not accessible
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Seating available around the gallery
  • Assistance dogs are welcome

Full information here.

Speaking about the importance of accessibility to them, the National Gallery said: “The National Gallery is committed to the widest possible access to the national collection of paintings. The Gallery's aim is to make physical access to the collection as easy as possible for all; to enable everyone to enjoy and study the collection in as many ways as possible.”

What to expect at the gallery

Overlooking Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery is ideally located for those exploring the famous attractions and landmarks of the capital. The collection available is truly magnificent, with the gallery being home to marvels from between the mid-13th century to the 1900s. Renaissance art lovers will be in their element at The National Gallery, as will those eager to see important works of Impressionism. With over 2,300 works available, including paintings by Van Gogh and Turner, it’s not hard to see why this particular gallery is a favourite of so many.

National Portrait Gallery


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Accessibility at the National Portrait Gallery

  • Carers entitled to free admission
  • The gallery is fully accessible
  • Lifts available
  • Four accessible toilets
  • Wheelchairs available to borrow
  • Assistance dogs are welcome
  • Seating available in some of the galleries

Full information here.

What to expect at the gallery

Portraits have been the window into understanding so much of history, giving us access to individuals – both iconic and anonymous – throughout the ages. The place to see the best collection in the UK is certainly the National Portrait Gallery, with its offerings spanning a massive 500 years of art history. From majestic portraits of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in the always popular Tudor galleries to fascinating paintings of the Bronte sisters in the Victorian galleries, a visit here combines history and art in one marvellous package.

Whitechapel Gallery


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Accessibility at Whitechapel Gallery

  • All the galleries are wheelchair accessible
  • Lifts to all levels
  • Wheelchairs available to borrow
  • Assistance dogs are welcome
  • Accessible toilets
  • Free Blue Badge parking on Osborn Street

Full information here.

Siobhan Forshaw, the Curator of Community Programmes at Whitechapel Gallery has spoken about the gallery’s focus on accessibility: “At Whitechapel Gallery we are dedicated to providing equality of access to all our visitors. The Gallery’s cross-departmental Access Group meets regularly to ensure that inclusivity remains at the heart of our welcome, through regular staff trainings and external research.”   

What to expect at the gallery

Whitechapel Gallery is a long-time staple of the London art scene, being situated in the East End for more than a hundred years. Championing contemporary art, London’s art lovers adore the gallery for its internationally acclaimed exhibitions and events. Whitechapel Gallery has a long history of premiering top emerging artists, including the likes of Jackson Pollock. With its education programme, engaging exhibitions, and fascinating artist retrospectives, Whitechapel Gallery makes an obvious addition to your London art gallery to-do list.

London’s best art galleries

  • Tate Modern
  • The Wallace Collection
  • The National Gallery
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Whitechapel Gallery

As you can see, there is so much to look forward to for art lovers in London and with many of the options being incredibly accessible, everyone who wants to can enjoy for themselves. So, make sure to consider some of the above on your visit to London’s art scene.

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