Our Top 15 Places to See Photography in the UK 

22nd July 2023


22nd July 2023

Read Time: 4 minutes

Our long history of influential photographers and a thriving community of contemporary artists solidifies the UK as one of the most exciting photography scenes around today. There are numerous museums, galleries, and cultural institutions dedicated to photography, and as the industry continues to grow from strength to strength, we wanted to share some of the best places in the UK to experience the power of the medium. While this list is not comprehensive, ordered nor finite, we hope you enjoy reading about some of our favourites:


Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The expanded Photography Centre at V&A South Kensington is the largest space in the UK dedicated to a permanent photography collection – hosting a world-leading programme of displays, events and opportunities for research. It celebrates the V&A’s vast photography collection, dating from the 1800s to the present day. The V&A was the first museum to collect photographs, beginning in the 1850s, and today their collection is one of the oldest and most significant in the world. In 2017, the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Collection was transferred to the V&A, considerably expanding an already vast collection. Today, the collection is international in scope and comprises over a million objects related to the history of photography, including photographs, negatives, cameras, technical equipment, books, periodicals, and archival material.

The Photographers’ Gallery, London
The Photographers’ Gallery in Soho is the UK’s foremost centre for the presentation and exploration of photography in all its forms, and home to an international community of photographers. Open 7 days a week, TPG presents a diverse and critically acclaimed programme of exhibitions, events, talks, workshops and courses, as well as offering a unique, specialist bookshop, a dedicated space for the discovery and sale of photographic prints and a tranquil café.

Autograph ABP
Tate Modern

Autograph, London
Established in 1988, Autograph’s mission is to champion the work of artists who use photography and film to highlight questions of race, representation, human rights and social justice. Autograph was originally founded by a number of photographers, including Sunil Gupta, Monika Baker, Merle Van den Bosch, Pratibha Parmar, Ingrid Pollard, Roshini Kempadoo, Armet Francis and Rotimi Fani-Kayode, as the Association of Black Photographers (ABP). In 1991, curator and cultural historian Mark Sealy became the director of the organisation.

Tate Modern, London
One of the world’s leading contemporary art museums, the Tate Modern has an impressive photography collection that includes emerging talents and renowned names from all around the globe. The number of photographs in Tate’s collection has increased five-fold over the past decade and there have been a host of acclaimed photography exhibitions staged across their four galleries.

National Portrait Gallery
Centre For British Photography

National Portrait Gallery, London
The National Portrait Gallery has an extensive permanent photographic portrait collection, as well as displaying temporary photographic exhibitions. They offer a significant programme for the interpretation and study of photography, including practical workshops. The Photographs collection consists of more than 250,000 original photographic images of which at least 130,000 are original negatives. They date from the 1840s to the present day.

Centre for British Photography, London
The Centre for British Photography is a major new public space that supports photographers working in Britain through exhibitions, events, grants and mentoring. Located in central London, the centre has six exhibition spaces, a programme of public events, an archive, and a print sales gallery. It aims to provide a dedicated home for British Photography in all its diversity.

Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
Manchester Art Gallery

Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
As a dedicated photography space, Open Eye emphasises contemporary photography and digital media. Having moved to a prime waterfront location seven years ago, the gallery has seen visitor numbers increase by 500%. It is now a key part of the Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art and, in the summer, hosted New Brighton Revisited, featuring the work of Martin Parr, Ken Grant and Tom Wood. The archive contains 1,600 prints from the 1930s to the present day.

Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester
The Manchester Art Gallery is best known for their world-famous Pre-Raphaelite paintings, yet the collection contains nearly 13,000 items including painting, sculpture, drawings, watercolours, prints and photographs. They have held prominent photography exhibitions such as Martin Parr’s touring display, ‘Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers’ (2017) and ‘Shirley Baker: Women and Children; and Loitering Men’ (2017).

Impressions Gallery

Impressions Gallery, Bradford
Established in 1972, Impressions has stayed true to its community roots, while also becoming a pioneering space showcasing contemporary photography for free. Since moving from York in 2007, it has hosted shows by Adam Broomberg, Oliver Chanarin, Peter Mitchell, Zed Nelson and Chloe Dewe Mathews.

Ffotogallery, Penarth
Since its formation in 1978, Ffotogallery has been at the forefront of new developments in photography and lens-based media in Wales and beyond, encouraging public understanding of and deeper engagement with photography and its value to society. It has hosted shows by the likes of Josef Koudelka and Wendy McMurdo. The gallery also organises the biannual Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography. Currently located just outside Cardiff, the gallery has plans to develop a new and expanded site in the city centre.

Belfast Exposed
Side Gallery

Belfast Exposed, Belfast
Belfast Exposed was founded by a group of local photographers in 1983 to challenge and subvert media representations of the Troubles-torn city. Belfast Exposed has since established itself as the key independent space for contemporary photography in Northern Ireland. Located in Belfast City Centre, the non-profit houses four public galleries, exhibiting world-class art that responds to contemporary currents in photography and politics. They specialise in mental health and wellbeing, supporting individuals and communities through their unique ‘Viewpoint’ programme.

Side Gallery, Newcastle
In 1977, the Amber film and photography collective, which was formed to document working-class experience in the north-east, opened Side Gallery in Newcastle with a remit to show “the best in humanist photography.” Since then, it has exhibited a huge range of work by local and international photographers, including Chris Killip, Don McCullin, Graham Smith and Vanessa Winship. Most recently, the gallery had to close its doors due to critical funding cuts and the cost of living crisis, but after successful crowd-funding hopes to re-open in September 2024. More information about the campaign can be found here.

Stills Centre for Photography
Martin Parr Foundation

Stills Centre for Photography, Edinburgh
Stills is a centre for photography based in the heart of Edinburgh. Established in 1977, Stills have a long history of supporting the advancement, enjoyment, exploration and understanding of photography in Scotland. It hosts four shows a year and has recently featured work by Jo Spence and the Archive of Modern Conflict. They also provide access to B&W and colour darkrooms, digital workstations, scanners, printers and dedicated video editing facilities.

Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol
Located in Paintworks, Bristol’s ‘creative quarter’, the Martin Parr Foundation supports emerging, established and overlooked photographers who have made and continue to make work focused on Britain and Ireland. The Foundation preserves a growing collection of significant photographic works and strives to make photography engaging and accessible for all.

RPS, Bristol
The Royal Photographic Society, one of the world’s oldest photographic societies, was founded in 1853 to make the art and science of photography more widely available. Still going strong, the RPS today is located at Paintworks in Bristol, offering a diverse education and exhibitions programme including workshops, talks and film screenings.


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