What are the best free art galleries in Newcastle upon Tyne?

11 June 2024

When it comes to enriching your life with art, you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune. For art lovers or those curious to explore the vibrant art scene, Newcastle upon Tyne, nestled in the heart of North East England, serves as a treasure trove. This city effortlessly marries the old with the new, churning out a fresh, dynamic cultural offering that's too enticing to miss. We've rounded up the best free art galleries that you can visit and delve into the rich vein of artistic prowess this city has to offer.

The Biscuit Factory

As the name subtly hints, The Biscuit Factory started its life as an actual biscuit factory but has since evolved into the UK's largest independent contemporary art, craft and design gallery. It's located in the Ouseburn Valley, fondly known as Newcastle's cultural quarter.

The gallery offers an impressive collection of original contemporary fine art, including paintings, prints, ceramics, textiles, and jewellery from over 200 artists. Art lovers find themselves captivated by the ever-changing exhibitions that bring to life the rich tapestry of local, national, and international artists. It's a fantastic place to enjoy a casual stroll, immersing yourself in the vibrant artistic atmosphere. For more info, you can visit their website or sign up for their email newsletter for updates on exhibitions and events.

Hatton Gallery

Located in the heart of Newcastle University's campus, Hatton Gallery has been a vital part of the city's art life for over a century. It's one of the oldest and best free galleries in Newcastle upon Tyne, with a notable history of innovative programming that includes the first UK showing of the post-expressionist artist Kurt Schwitters.

At Hatton, you'll encounter a broad spectrum of art from historical to contemporary, with a particular emphasis on 20th-century modernism and post-war artists. The gallery also conducts regular programs and workshops for budding artists and art enthusiasts. The Hatton Gallery's website provides more detailed info and schedules for your visit.

Laing Art Gallery

The Laing Art Gallery, located on New Bridge Street, is a testament to the rich artistic heritage of Newcastle upon Tyne. It's a premier gallery in the North East, home to an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures, including works by John Martin, Henry Moore and Joshua Reynolds.

The gallery takes pride in hosting exhibitions that explore not just art, but also history and culture. The diverse range of artwork is bound to enthral art enthusiasts from all walks of life. It also extends a warm welcome to children with interactive exhibitions that are both entertaining and educative.

Newcastle Arts Centre

Newcastle Arts Centre is a unique cultural hub in Newcastle upon Tyne, hosting a range of creative outlets under one roof. The centre is home to several independent businesses, including an art shop, framing workshop, print studio, and, of course, several art galleries.

The galleries at Newcastle Arts Centre are a hotbed for local talent, showcasing the works of emerging artists and photographers from Newcastle and beyond. Every month, the galleries display new exhibitions, ensuring there's always something new and exciting to see. The centre's website or email updates would be the best sources of info for upcoming exhibitions and events.

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

No list of free art galleries in Newcastle upon Tyne is complete without mentioning the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Housed in a landmark industrial building on the south bank of the River Tyne, the Baltic Centre holds an enviable reputation as one of the UK's leading contemporary art institutions.

The centre's programme is always avant-garde, showcasing provocative and compelling artworks from both established and emerging artists from around the globe. It's a fantastic place to explore contemporary art in all its forms, including painting, sculpture, film, and digital media. For more information on exhibitions and artists, you can visit the centre's website or subscribe to their email newsletter.

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums is an exceptional network of museums and galleries scattered across the North East, including Newcastle upon Tyne. This network comprises of nine venues, each delivering a unique cultural experience. These museums and galleries house a staggering collection of art, history, science, and technology exhibits.

Among the standout venues is the Discovery Museum, located in Blandford Square. It is famous for its displays of maritime history, science and technology. This interactive museum offers a delightful experience for families, with its engaging exhibits that make learning fun.

Another noteworthy venue is the South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, which sheds light on the area's rich Roman history. You'll find an eclectic mix of artworks and artefacts that chronicle the local history and culture, including a replica of a Roman fort.

For art lovers, the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead is a must-visit. As the leading craft and design gallery in the North East, it showcases an impressive collection of contemporary art, ceramics, and textiles.

These are free-entry venues, ensuring that art and history are accessible to all, regardless of budget. Further information on the exhibits, events, and opening hours can be found on the official website of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

Tyneside Cinema Gallery

Tyneside Cinema Gallery, housed in the historic Tyneside Cinema building in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne, is a hidden gem among the city's free art galleries. The gallery aims to blur the boundaries between the mediums of film and art, offering a unique sensory experience to its visitors with its innovative use of video and digital technology.

The gallery often features the work of both established and emerging artists. Through its engaging exhibits, it encourages the audience to explore the concept of moving image as a form of contemporary art. The gallery also conducts regular film screenings, artist talks, and workshops, making it a thriving hub for the city's artistic community.

For further information on the Tyneside Cinema Gallery's exhibitions and events, you can visit their official website or sign up for their email newsletter.


Newcastle upon Tyne undoubtedly serves as a canvas to a rich and vibrant art scene. The city's best museums and art galleries offer a unique blend of historical, modern, and contemporary art, all free of charge. Whether you're an art snob, history buff, or a casual visitor looking for things to do in Newcastle, these art galleries won't disappoint. From the rich tapestry of local and international artists at The Biscuit Factory to the groundbreaking digital exhibits at Tyneside Cinema Gallery, there's something to pique everyone's interest. Take a stroll through these artistic hubs and immerse yourself in the cultural heart of North East England.

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