Find the best exhibitions in Leeds at these 10 brilliant art spaces, from world-class sculpture to the biggest collection of 20th-century British art in the UK and local art collaborations.
When it comes to art, Leeds has a multitude of galleries for you to take in, but which should you visit? You can take in watercolours by Turner, oil paintings by Francis Bacon and, of course, sculptures by Henry Moore – but even that only scratches the surface of what Leeds’ finest art spaces have to offer.
1. Henry Moore Institute
The Henry Moore Institute isn’t just one of the most important galleries in Leeds – it’s one of the most important in the country. It’s dedicated to the study of sculpture, and you can cast your eyes over some of the most celebrated works in the field here. Their exhibitions cover both historical and contemporary works, and they often bring the work of world-class artists like Jean Tinguely, Jiro Takamatsu, Roy Ascott and Gego to Leeds. The Henry Moore Institute is also home to a sculptural library and archive, which makes it a one-stop-shop for art academics.
Henry Moore Institute, 74 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AH.
2. Leeds Art Gallery
Leeds Art Gallery is a must-visit. It’s home to a sensational collection of art, including one of the biggest collections of 20th-century British art in the UK, starting with Henry Moore’s sculpture of the Reclining Woman outside and Lothar Götz’s Xanadu in the entrance hall. Inside, you can head to the Lower Galleries to discover important works by the likes of Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth and Damien Hirst or visit the Upper Galleries to explore works from their modern artworks and temporary exhibitions.
Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AA.
3. The Gallery at 164
The Gallery at 164 is an independent art space that’s well worth hunting out for the eclectic array of art it brings to Leeds. It doesn’t pigeon hole itself – in the past they’ve showcased everything from the award-winning photographs of Peter Dench to the risqué cartoons of Joan Cornellà and surreal paintings of Maria Brzozowska. Expect the unexpected – after all, this is a gallery that collaborates with a local food festival every year to create an exhibition out of and inspired by food.
The Gallery at 164, Munro House, Duke Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS9 8AG.
4. The Tetley
The Tetley is a gallery like no other as a former brewery that’s now become three floors of art and workshops. They showcase emerging artists and show their work to a wider audience, from cool prints to boundary-pushing, immersive installations. Over the years, they’ve presented work by the likes of Jonathan Trayte, Joseph Buckley and Dora García, as well as big shows that sees local artists come together to collaborate. After you’ve had a look around, you can stick around for a drink and bite to eat in the bar and restaurant.
The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ.
5. Harewood House
This is a very different kind of art gallery. Harewood House is a grandiose 18th-century country home, set in stunning gardens – and it’s full of art. The watercolours are at the heart of their extensive collection – they have paintings by the likes of JMW Turner, Thomas Girtin and John Varley. You can also see temporary exhibitions by modern artists, works by masters of the Italian Renaissance and family portraits by the likes of Reynolds, Hopper and Lawrence. Your ticket will get you into the house, where you can see the art and also explore one of Britain’s Treasure Houses which is home to over 100 acres and the bird gardens, where they even have penguins.
Harewood House, Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS17 9LG.
6. Leeds Arts University
There are two galleries at Leeds Arts University. They host 20 contemporary art exhibitions every year, giving you the chance to see the next generation of artistic talent before anyone else. You can check out pieces by students and staff from the university as they explore different mediums and practices, but they also invite artists from around the world to showcase their work
Leeds Arts University, Blenheim Walk, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9AQ and Vernon Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8PH.
7. Sunny Bank Mills
Sunny Bank Mills was once a key part of the city’s industrial past, but since being restored by the Gaunt family, it’s been turned into a multi-purpose creative space with a 3,000-square-foot art gallery at its heart. It’s one of the best galleries in Leeds to find exhibitions by local artists, as it gives them a platform to show their work, from Mel Davies’ colourful landscapes to Kate Kenney’s oil paintings of Yorkshire. It’s also home to Spinning Mill Studios, where local artists and makers create and display their work.
Sunny Bank Mills, 83-85 Town Street, Farsley, Pudsey, West Yorkshire, LS28 5UJ.
8. The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery
You don’t have to be a student to enjoy the art of The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds. Since 1970, it’s been home to the University Art Collection, which features ceramics, photographs and sculpture. That’s not all – you can see an incredible selection of British and European paintings, drawings and prints from 17th century to the present day. It’s also the starting point for their Public Art Trail, which features a series of art installations dotted all across the university campus.
The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JT.
9. Left Bank Leeds
Left Bank Leeds is one of the city’s most unusual gallery spaces. Formerly St Margaret’s Anglican church, this grade II-listed building was transformed into a community space in 2002. It hosts art exhibitions on a regular basis. You can check out the work of local artists in the Porch Gallery, including exhibitions from legends like Humans of Leeds. They use their main space for one-off showcases like INF23, an inflatable sculpture designed to interact with the venue itself.
Left Bank Leeds, Cardigan Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1LJ.
10. Assembly House
Assembly House is an artist-led gallery and studios in a converted Victorian textiles mill on the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Open since 2015, it’s one of the best spaces and galleries in Leeds where local creatives can work on their practice and collaborate on ideas. The resident artists run the gallery’s exhibition programme, curating a line-up that shows off their own work and welcomes artists from around the UK.
Assembly House, 44 Canal Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 2PL.