Contemporary Art

Five of the Best Private Museums in London

By Anny Shaw

Unprecedented numbers of contemporary art collectors are building private museums to share their collections and promote emerging artists around the world. Ever since the collector Charles Saatchi opened his first exhibition space at Boundary Road in St John’s Wood, London has been lucky enough to be one of the cities in the vanguard of this trend.

Visitors to London this month can take in shows at the Newport Street Gallery, artist Damien Hirst’s gallery, the Zabludowicz Collection, founded by Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, and the current version of the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, West London. London also boasts its share of private collections of older art, many of them now bequeathed to the nation, including the Wallace Collection, which specialises in 18th- and 19th-century art, and Sir John Soane’s Museum, formerly the home of the neo-classical architect and collector.

Dan Colen, Marbles in My Mouth. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates. © Dan Colen

Newport Street Gallery

Former YBA Damien Hirst opened Newport Street Gallery in the up-and- coming neighbourhood of Vauxhall in south London in 2015 to showcase works from his 3,000-strong Murderme collection. “I’ve felt guilty owning work that is stored away in boxes where no one can see it, so having a space where I can put on shows from the collection is a dream come true,” says Hirst, whose collection includes pieces by Francis Bacon, Giacometti, Banksy and Tracey Emin. The gallery opened with an exhibition of paintings by the British abstract artist John Hoyland and has since staged shows by Gavin Turk, Jeff Koons and Ashley Bickerton. Dan Colen: Sweet Liberty is on view until 21 January 2018.

Nearest tube: Vauxhall or Lambeth North
Food and drink: Pharmacy 2, Damien Hirst’s restaurant in collaboration with Mark Hix, is open to visitors to the exhibitions during the day, and for dinner when the gallery is closed.

Kate McGwire, Corvid. 2011. Courtesy of the Saatchi Gallery, London. © Kate MccGwire, 2017

Saatchi Gallery

Charles Saatchi, arguably the UK’s best-known contemporary art collector, opened his first gallery in north London in 1985. Since then he has occupied premises on the Southbank and now in Chelsea. Saatchi’s strength lies in championing unknown artists, often propelling them to fame, as he did with the YBAs in his 1997 Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy. The Saatchi Gallery’s new commercial project space Salon opened in February 2017, presenting works outside the main gallery’s very contemporary remit, as well as major artists who are little-known in the UK. The group show, Iconoclasts: Art Out of the Mainstream is on view until 7 January 2018.

Nearest tube: Sloane Square
Food and drink: The Bluebird restaurant and bar is a firm favourite with well-heeled locals. For those wanting something a little more down-to- earth, The Phene gastropub offers a great selection of food and beers.

Haroon Mirza, Pathological Theology. 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Zabludowicz Collection. Photo: Tim Bowditch

Zabludowicz Collection

Anita and Poju Zabludowicz opened their collection of more than 2,000 works to the public in a converted chapel in north-west London in 2007. Their aim is to provide a platform for up-and- coming artists. “Since we opened ten years ago, the Zabludowicz Collection team has been focused on following and nurturing the development of artists, including students and those without representation,” Anita Zabludowicz says, noting that “there are still very few opportunities for young artists to gain exposure”. To mark the collection’s tenth anniversary, two exhibitions are open this month. HRM199: For a Partnership Society (28 September – 17 December) sees Haroon Mirza rework two of his pieces in the collection, while The Root (28 September – 5 November) is a solo show by Rebecca Ackroyd.

Nearest tube: Chalk Farm, Kentish Town West or Belsize Park
Food and drink: Jamon Jamon serves tapas and paella, while Artiango is the perfect restaurant for an occasion. Chez Bob or Chamomile are best for brunch.

Installation view of (X) A Fantasy at DRAF, 2017. Photo: Tim Bowditch

David Roberts Art Foundation

The Scottish collector David Roberts initially launched a gallery in Fitzrovia ten years ago, but in 2012 he moved to a former factory in Camden. The David Roberts Art Foundation (DRAF) has always focused on more experimental works, launching a performance space in 2015. Roberts is now selling the London venue, with plans to open a sculpture park in Somerset in 2019. The foundation takes over the Koko music venue in Camden this month, when new commissions by Laure Prouvost and DJ Nkisi will be unveiled.

Nearest tube: Mornington Crescent or Camden Town
Food and drink: Part of the Gordon Ramsay empire, York & Albany combines boutique hotel, bar and restaurant. Fifty Five Bar offers a staggering 200 cocktails.

Martin Puryear, installation view at Parasol unit, 2017. Photo: Benjamin Westoby

Parasol Unit foundation for contemporary art

Founded in east London in 2004 by the Iranian-born art historian and curator Ziba Ardalan, Parasol unit is a non-profit organisation that organises four exhibitions a year. Ardalan bought the former Victorian furniture factory from the art dealer Victoria Miro, who has a gallery next door, and supports the foundation with the help of Arts Council grants. She has introduced often little- known artists to a London audience and provided a platform for recent graduates through the foundation’s Exposure programme. A solo show by Martin Puryear runs until 6 December.

Nearest tube: Old Street or Angel
Food and drink: Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen trains apprentice chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds, while Shoreditch offers a myriad of bars from Below the Smoke to Callooh Callay and The Devil’s Darling.

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