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Art in London with a student-friendly budget

Updated: May 25, 2021

If you study in or close to London, you need to enjoy the London art scene to its fullest. Entry tickets to some exhibitions are pricey, but many museums offer great deals to make art more accessible to students. In addition to museum exhibitions, London is full of galleries and auction houses that exhibit quality art for free. Below we have listed the best students deals and best places to visit to see good art.

1. Get a Student Art Pass.

Students can annually purchase a Student Art Pass for £5, which offers free or reduced-price entry to over one hundred museums, historic houses and galleries in the UK. For example, the pass grants discounted access to the Hayward Gallery, St Paul’s Cathedral, Barbican Art Gallery, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. See the full list of places you can visit on their website. The Student Art Pass also informs their members of upcoming work opportunities, organises events, and creates a community for students who are interested in art and culture.

2. Join the Tate Collective.

The Tate Collective is a scheme designed for 16 to 25-year-olds and it offers discounts in Tate’s cafés and shops and free events, but most importantly £5 entry tickets to all of their exhibitions. Normally reaching £25 ticket prices, this discount should not be missed. Joining the collective is free, and the membership continues after your graduation until you turn 25 years old.

3. Find out where you can see free exhibitions.

Keep in mind that many museums grant free entry to their permanent collections, as they only charge for their temporary exhibitions. You can visit, for instance, the vast collections at the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum that are free to all.

Top galleries in London

In addition to museums, the London galleries offer exhibitions on leading international contemporary artists for free. Gallery exhibitions change more frequently, so there will always be something new and exciting to see in the London gallery scene. There are hundreds of galleries in London, but here are some of our top picks that are located in Central London:

  • Gagosian Gallery

  • Hauser & Wirth

  • White Cube (Bermondsey and Mason’s Yard)

  • Serpentine Gallery

  • Thaddeus Ropac

  • Victoria Miro

  • Lisson Gallery

  • Marian Goodman Gallery

Auction houses

Many people do not realise that exhibitions held at auction houses are accessible to all. Auction houses display the objects that they are going to sell in upcoming auctions in a gallery setting. Anyone can go inside to see the art and design objects for free, whether you are a prospective buyer or not. In the past few years Sotheby’s, for example, has been able to exhibit famous works by artists such as Yves Klein, David Hockney and Banksy to name a few.

  • Sotheby’s

34-35 New Bond St, Mayfair, London W1A 2AA

  • Christie’s

8 King St, St. James's, London SW1Y 6QT

Remember that at the moment museums and galleries require you book your free tickets online due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Emma Valjakka

MA History of Art Student at The Courtauld Institute of Art

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