Photographers' Gallery

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30 Love It
Kate Elliott
New exterior of the Photographers' Gallery, Ramilies St
Soho Free

The Photographers' Gallery's six-storey premises on Ramillies Street has reopened after a full facelift. Original plans for the new site were for a striking, angular structure with giant floor-to-ceiling lightwells grasping for the sky. After a fiscal wake-up call (the budget was cut nearly in half to £9 million), the Irish architects O'Donnell+Tuomey returned with a handsome refit and recladding of an old brick building, plus what amounts to an extravagant loft conversion, adding two whole storeys and just one thin sliver of those firmament-reaching windows. What hasn't been lost is any of the interior space. The upper floors boast two airy new galleries, while a bookshop, print sales room and café have been dug from the ground floor and basement levels. In fact, the climb-down from landmark building to tasteful conversion is no great loss, given the building's move to an unprepossessing corner plot in a back alley south of Oxford Street. The Photographers' Gallery has kept faith in its location, however tricky and inhospitable their new plot on the vaguely insalubrious Ramilies Street might seem. Indeed, the new site maintains the gallery's roots in Soho (just) and will hopefully come to be as embedded here as it was in its former location on Great Newport Street, which, despite its inelegant, warren-like unsuitability for showing great photography, will also live long in the memory.

Venue name: Photographers' Gallery
Address: 16-18 Ramillies St
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm; Thu 10am-8pm; Sun 11.30am-6pm
Transport: Tube: Oxford Circus
Price: From July 17: Free until noon then £3, £2.50 concs.
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  • Photography Until Sunday January 10 2016
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Staff Writer

I love how this place can draw you into lives of people long gone, or issues of far-away countries. It's not only about art - it's about the message the photographers want or need to convey.

This is definitely one of the best galleries in London in terms of exhibitions. Last time I went, I started on the first floor with an immersive experience of Chinese photography, climbed up through an interactive photography room all the way up to the light rooms featuring exhibition of the best contemporary photographers.

I didn't like the building itself though. It's quite dark, the floors/exhibition rooms are quite small and crowded. The cafe on the ground floor doesn't look inviting so we never really want to hang around. It's a shame, this gallery would deserve a much better venue.

James A
moderatorStaff Writer

Having the option of just being able to drop in here at lunctime never gets old


A great secret spot to know about, perched just behind the UK's busiest street. I’m fairly new to photography as a medium, but I feel that The Photographer’s Gallery is accessible to both professionals and casual observers alike. Entry was just £2, and I happily spent several hours exploring the different collections, which are refreshed regularly, so you get a different experience every time. On my visit, I was particularly drawn to the fascinating Shirley Baker exhibition of the shifting scene of Northern England  in the 1960s and 1970s – which was nicely complemented by the more contemporary exhibition on music culture – I really feel there is something for everyone. I’d also recommend the bookshop tucked downstairs; perfect for coffee table gifts, with a range matching the exhibitions, and for general interest. Don’t forget to stop by the café, a peaceful place with great tea(!) - to reflect on the day’s exploits. 

The Man on the Street

Attended the Time Out Card curated tour of the Shirley Baker exhibition. Loved the evening from start to finish. Thanks to the staff who were so knowledgeable and welcoming. The exhibition captured the street scenes in Manchester during the slum clearances of the 60's and 70's. The curator really brought the photographs to life for us, but even touring alone you would enjoy both place and exhibition. We were fortunate enough to stay for an evening lecture. I left feeling I had discovered a great new gallery and a wonderful photographer. 


Great institution championing photography in the UK and beyond, showcasing a wide rage of work, both historic and contemporary, by the world's leading artists, as well as recent graduates. Located in the heart of London, the 6th floor gallery with diverse exhibition and events programme, range of educational activities, large bookshop and a nice cafe always has something for everyone!

It's also easily the only reason to come to Oxford Street at all!


Sounds interesting to me! I might have to stop over some time...


I echo Harriets comments entirely - old cafe and friendliness sadly missed.


I can't believe the Photographers Gallery didn't realise what an asset they had in the cafe at the old site. Whenever I was in the Leicester square/Oxford street area I couldn't resist popping in for a slice of cake or a delicious sandwich and I would always spend a good proportion of time wandering through the gallery afterwards. I have since visited the new site and was dismayed that the man who had ran the cafe for so long seems to have been let go...