Barbican Art Gallery


Barbican Centre, Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS


020-7638 8891



Opening times:

Mon–Sat: 9:00–23:00, Sun: 10:00-23:00, Bank Holidays: 12:00–23:00

How to get there:

Tube: Barbican/Moorgate

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Additional information:

Restaurants and shops

The Barbican Centre is part of a vast residential, commercial and arts complex covering a 35-acre site, including within its boundaries the church of St Giles Cripplegate and medieval stretches of old City wall. It takes its name from an old fortification just outside the City limits, destroyed in the 13th century. The complex was conceived in the 1950s, an optimistic post-war era of social town planning, but building work—to the designs of Chamberlin, Powell & Bon—did not commence until 1963 and was completed only in 1982. As well as residential apartments, the Barbican was to incorporate a theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company, a concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra, and an art gallery. In addition, there are conference facilities, a studio theatre (The Pit), a public library and two cinemas.

The Barbican is a complicated and uncompromising building of pre-fabricated concrete on a monolithic scale, its various blocks surrounding a central lake with hanging plants and fountains, the whole connected by terraces and pedestrian walkways. Orientation is notoriously confusing. If approaching the complex from Moorgate, you should follow the yellow painted lines on the ground—a concept similar to using string in the Minotaur’s labyrinth. A more fool-proof route is to leave Barbican tube station, cross over Aldersgate and walk up the rather forbidding Beech Street. A right turn towards its end leads round to the Barbican Centre’s main Silk Street entrance. An architectural upgrading of the entrances and foyers is underway, the aim to improve navigation. A number of art works are on display in the public spaces, including Roubiliac’s bust of Shakespeare.

The Barbican Art Gallery, on level 3, is one of London’s major temporary exhibition venues. The space is spread over two floors, the upper overlooking the lower, sometimes filled with one exhibition but more usually two separate ones with a linked theme. The six to seven exhibitions a year concentrate mainly on 20th-century and contemporary art, design, photography and fashion. Changing displays (free) also take place in The Curve, on the ground floor.

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Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.


National Maritime Museum
Wimbledon Windmill Museum
Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
2 Willow Road (National Trust)
William Morris Gallery
Whitechapel Gallery
Westminster Abbey Museum
Wesley's Chapel
Wellington Arch (English Heritage)
Wallace Collection
Victoria & Albert Museum
Tower Bridge Exhibition
Tower of London (Historic Royal Palaces)
Tate Modern
Tate Britain
Sutton House (National Trust)
Spencer House
Southside House
South London Art Gallery
The Courtauld Institute of Art (Somerset House)
Sir John Soane's Museum
Shakespeare’s Globe
Serpentine Gallery
Science Museum
St Bride’s Crypt Museum
St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
Saatchi Gallery
Royal Society of Arts
The Royal Mews
Royal London Hospital Museum
The Faraday Museum
Royal Hospital Chelsea
RCM Museum of Music
Royal Academy of Music Museum
Royal Academy of Arts
Red House (National Trust)
Ranger’s House (English Heritage)
Ragged School Museum
The Queen’s Gallery
Prince Henry’s Room
The Photographers’ Gallery
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Osterley Park (National Trust)
Orleans House Gallery
Old Operating Theatre, Museum and Herb Garret
Natural History Museum
National Portrait Gallery
National Gallery
National Army Museum
Musical Museum
World Rugby Museum
Museum of the Order of St John
Museum No. 1 (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Museum of London
Garden Museum
Museum in Docklands (Museum of London)
The Royal Observatory
The Queen's House
Old Royal Naval College
Marianne North Gallery (Royal Botanic Gardens)
Marble Hill House (English Heritage)
Mall Galleries
Lord’s Tour and MCC Museum
London Transport Museum
London Fire Brigade Museum
London Canal Museum
18 Stafford Terrace – The Sambourne Family Home
Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Leighton House
Kingston Museum
Kew Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
London Museum of Water & Steam
Kenwood House (English Heritage)
Kensington Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Keats House
Jewish Museum
Jewel Tower (English Heritage)
Jerwood Space
Imperial War Museum
ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts
Hunterian Museum
Horniman Museum
HMS Belfast (Imperial War Museum)
Hayward Gallery
Handel House Museum
Hampton Court Palace (Historic Royal Palaces)
Ham House (National Trust)
Guildhall Art Gallery
Guards Museum
Grant Museum of Zoology & Comparative Anatomy
Geffrye Museum of the Home
Fulham Palace
Freud Museum
Foundling Museum
Forty Hall & Estate
Florence Nightingale Museum
Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum
Fenton House (National Trust)
Fashion and Textile Museum
Fan Museum
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
Eltham Palace (English Heritage)
Dulwich Picture Gallery
Dr Johnson’s House
Dennis Severs' House
Danson House
Cutty Sark
Contemporary Applied Arts
Chiswick House (English Heritage)
Chelsea Physic Garden
Chartered Insurance Institute Museum
Charles Dickens Museum
Carlyle’s House (National Trust)
Camden Arts Centre
Cabinet War Rooms & Churchill Museum (Imperial War Museum)
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Buckingham Palace
Brunel Engine House
Brunei Gallery SOAS
British Optical Association Museum
The British Museum
The British Library
Bramah Museum of Tea and Coffee
Black Cultural Archives
Museum of Childhood (Victoria & Albert Museum)
Bethlem Museum of the Mind
Benjamin Franklin House
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Barbican Art Gallery
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Bankside Gallery
Bank of England Museum
All Hallows Undercroft Museum
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