10 of the Top Photography Museums and Galleries in Europe

Spotted By Locals
July 3, 2020
5 min read

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about tons of pictures in lots of different art exhibitions? Pictures can brighten up a room, your day, or even your mood! On a rainy day (or even a sunny one), browsing pictures is a great way to pass the time. Here are some amazing photography museums and galleries, selected by our locals in cities across Europe.

Museum für Fotografie, Berlin

Museum für Fotografie (by Stefan Müller)

This is a museum you need to check out if you’re interested in good vintage fashion photography. The Museum für Fotografie in Berlin features various photographers such as Helmut Newton, one of the twentieth century’s most influential fashion photographers. You can find cameras that he owned, along with props used in famous photos that were later printed in magazines like Vogue, Elle and Paris Match. The works of many other famous photographers are also on display.

SEDF, Bratislava

SEDF Bratislava (by SEDF)

The Central European House of Photography (SEDF) is a rather small gallery, but if you want to experience Central European photography this is the place to go. Throughout the year they have great exhibitions, mixing big names with local artists. They also offer photography courses geared toward anybody from beginners to pros. Perhaps the biggest event they organize is the main photographic festival in Slovakia, the Month of Photography. If you visit between October and December, be sure to check out the exhibitions scattered around town!

The Photographers’ Gallery, London

The Photographers’ Gallery (by The Photographers’ Gallery)

Our London local Peter’s favorite photo museum, The Photographers’ Gallery, makes for a peaceful break from the shopping masses of Oxford Street. Many artists with varying styles and levels of renown are featured in their constantly changing exhibitions, challenging visitors to contemplate what makes photographs great. Is it technical skill with high-level equipment? Is it the delicate balance of light and shadow? Or is it creating a bond with the viewer?

Sala Canal Isabel II, Madrid

Sala Canal Isabel II (by Andrea Roberts)

This beautiful old water tower in Madrid is a great example of an imaginatively repurposed space. In 1986, Sala Canal Isabel II was converted into a modern gallery space with a focus on contemporary photography and audio-visual exhibitions. The dome was also converted into a small auditorium for showing movies. Inside this stunning building you’ll find a cool, quiet space, often empty of other visitors.

Les Douches la Galerie, Paris

Les Douches la Galerie (by Wanda Meyer)

Situated in what was once a public bath built in the 1930s, the gallery Les Douches is one of Paris’s best-kept secrets. For anyone passionate about architecture, history or photography – this is the place to visit if you get the chance. The gallery is curated by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable art director, Françoise Morin, who is always more than happy to pass on and discuss her enthusiasm for photography.

Portuguese Center of Photography, Porto

Portuguese Center of Photography Museums
Portuguese Center of Photography (by Centro Português de Fotografia)

The Portuguese Center of Photography is located in an old Porto jail that was active until the 1974 revolution. Its huge dark stone building makes a magnificent location for this photography museum. Now, after extensive restoration, it’s one of the most dynamic museums in Portugal, and one of the most worth visiting. Featured are a combination of great temporary exhibitions along with interesting permanent displays, such as the history of cameras since “the beginning of time”.

PhotoSynthesis, Sofia

PhotoSynthesis Gallery Sofia (by PhotoSynthesis)

This spot is a popular hub for photographers in Sofia. PhotoSynthesis started as a shop for equipment and accessories but has since expanded, now offering printing services, photography courses and more. It also opened an art photography gallery in 2013. A glass-roof bar right between the shop and the gallery offers a nice place to mingle with the many amateur and professional photographers who come here to work or have a drink.

Fotografiska, Stockholm

Fotografiska (by Maria Eklind)

Fotografiska is located on the northern shore of the island Södermalm. This privately-owned museum of photography offers world class exhibitions (as well as great brunches and dinners at its award-winning restaurant). Come here for beautiful photography and breathtaking views over the water and nearby island of Djurgården.

Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, Thessaloniki

Photography Museum (by Thessaloniki Museum of Photography)

Located in an old military warehouse at the port of Thessaloniki, the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography is the perfect spot for photographers. It features interesting exhibitions by Greek and international photographers. The spot in itself is also a great place to get your camera out. If you find yourself walking by the seaside near the port on a sunny day, check the exhibition at the museum, then relax at the coffee shop, enjoying the colors of the sea.

Image of War, Zagreb

Image of War Zagreb (by Mirna Marić)

Image of War, a war photography museum, opened in autumn of 2018 in downtown Zagreb. The featured photos were taken by local and foreign photographers during the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, with a focus on the perspective of ordinary people, and often tell stories more powerful than any news report. Titled “Up close and personal”, the exhibition acknowledges the impossibility of a neutral, objective witness, offering instead a complex mosaic of powerful and touching micro-stories. A portion of the revenue from ticket sales is donated to refugees and forcibly displaced persons.

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