Lincoln’s thriving art scene is one of the city’s best kept secrets. Scratch beneath the surface of the historic cathedral towers and castle walls, and you will find a creative soul. Art is an intrinsic part of the city’s past, present and future. More than 200 years ago JMW Turner was inspired after visiting Lincoln, and today, art courses at the local university are bringing a whole new generation of talent. Ready to learn more? Here we compile the best art galleries in Lincoln to visit, plus more ideas for discovering the city’s creative side.
Art galleries in Lincoln
The Usher Gallery
- Location: 1 Danes Terrace, LN2 1LP
- Opening hours: Friday to Sunday, 10am–4pm
- Specialities: fine and decorative art
The oldest and best-known among the art galleries in Lincoln is the Usher Gallery, which celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2022. Set in a purpose-built stony mansion house, it is named after local businessman and collector James Ward Usher.
Usher bequeathed a generous sum of money in his will for a public art gallery to be built to exhibit his fine collections of watches, ceramics and silver.
The exhibits at the Usher Gallery have expanded to incorporate a range of fine and decorative arts, as new items have been gifted, bought and commissioned over the decades.
Among the works on display today, you can see paintings of Lincoln by JMW Turner after his visit to Lincoln, as well as iconic works by LS Lowry and Benjamin West. Lesser-known artists from Lincolnshire are showcased too.
The Usher Gallery is run together with The Collection, a history and archaeology museum in an adjacent building. Together they make up Lincolnshire’s county museum and gallery, and a regular programme of temporary exhibitions is held across both sites.
Harding House Gallery
- Location: 50 Steep Hill, LN2 1LT
- Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am–5pm, Sunday 11am–4pm
- Specialities: handcrafted glass, ceramics, paintings, metalwork, jewellery and textiles
The cobbled Steep Hill is the epicentre of creativity in Lincoln, lined with independent shops selling handcrafted goods of all kinds. Near the top of the hill you will find Harding House Gallery, set in one of the city’s archetypal medieval buildings.
Harding House Gallery is another of Lincoln’s volunteer-led art institutions. It is run by a cooperative of ten local artists, each bringing a unique style and special role to the gallery.
The building is a magnificently preserved 16th-century merchant’s house with a stone-built lower floor and timber-framed upper floor. Like many structures of its kind it has been reimagined over the years, and now plays host to a fabulous collection of handcrafted artwork.
Inside the lower floor you can peruse glasswork, ceramics, textiles, jewellery, photography and paintings. The upstairs space is utilised for a regular programme of temporary exhibitions.
The Little Red Gallery
- Location: 8 Bailgate, LN1 3AE
- Opening hours: 7 days a week, 10am–6pm
- Specialities: contemporary art
Featured in our free download of hidden gems in Lincoln, there is more to the Little Red Gallery than meets the eye. From outside it has the appearance of a small and simple gallery, but venture inside and you will find a maze of four individually arranged rooms displaying a range of contemporary art.
The collection at the Little Red Gallery blends works by established internationals artist and up-and-coming local talent. All of this in a beautiful interior that has been creatively designed and arranged.
Spencer Coleman Fine Art
- Location: 2 Exchequer Gate, LN2 1PZ
- Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am–5pm
- Specialities: fine art
Spencer Coleman Fine Art is almost hidden in plain sight in Castle Square, at the heart of uphill Lincoln. We must have walked past it hundreds of times before it caught our attention, nestled between the Magna Carta pub and the arches of Exchequer Gate leading through to Lincoln Cathedral.
The gallery is set in a listed 16th-century building that once served as an apothecary. Inside the display rooms you can see the original timber framing on the walls.
This place is a treat for fine art lovers, and also displays specialist frenchic-painted furniture, glasswork and giftware. You can buy prints to take away.
Spencer Coleman Fine Art is also a family-friendly gallery, with children and dogs welcome.
- Location: 139-140 High Street, LN5 7PJ
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9am–5.30pm, Saturday 9am–4.30pm
- Specialities: contemporary art
Located south of the city centre on Lincoln High Street, Bluestone Art showcases contemporary works by a range of British artists and sculptors. You can’t miss its bold navy blue shopfront as you walk past the old Lincoln Equitable Cooperative Industrial Society building.
The spacious interior displays hundreds of artworks around its pillars and walls. There is also an adjoined framing specialist, Speed Frame, and a home approval service to help you in choosing and hanging the right piece.
Bluestone Art also holds occasional events such as artist visits, and offers an interest-free credit scheme to help you spread payments over time for a special purchase.
Trent Galleries Lincoln
- Location: 28 Sincil Street, LN5 7ET
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am–5.30pm, Saturday 10am–5pm
- Specialities: urban and contemporary fine art
One of the newest art galleries in Lincoln is the fourth branch of Trent Galleries, which opened in the Cornhill Quarter area of the city. Trent Galleries also has branches in Newark, Oakham and Beverley.
The Cornhill Quarter has fast become one of the most exciting culture hubs of Lincoln, with an Everyman cinema, a 200 Degrees Coffee Shop (one of the best coffee houses in Lincoln), and cool places to eat, drink and socialise, like Cosy Club and the Botanist.
Trent Galleries is a great addition to this mix. One thing we love about the place is its collection of urban art, which really distinguishes it among the crowd.
Urban art is an expression of city life and experiences, most recognisable in its guises of street murals and graffiti. Trent Galleries brings this into the exhibition space, showcasing brilliant talent like the Israeli urban artist Yuvi.
The Lincoln gallery also displays the works of a range of visual and contemporary artists, such as Bristolian Doug Hyde and Argentine Fabian Perez. Come along at the weekend for Prosecco Saturdays, and you can enjoy a glass of fizz while browsing the artwork!
Gallery at St Martin’s
- Location: 37B Hungate, LN1 1ET
- Opening hours: 10.30am–5pm, Monday to Saturday
- Specialities: contemporary and traditional art
Gallery at St Martins is one of the cosiest and most intimate art galleries in Lincoln. It is a space dedicated to exhibiting the work of upcoming local artists, sometimes including talented university students.
You will find the gallery on a quiet side street near the foot of Steep Hill, just across from Margaret’s Tea Rooms, one of the best tea rooms in Lincoln. A leisurely creative Saturday could be spent perusing the varied displays and then popping over the road for a delicious afternoon tea.
The gallery is owned and managed by local artist Phil Bowman, who is also chair of the Lincolnshire Artists’ Society. His colourful abstract works are among those on display.
More ways to explore art in Lincoln
In addition to exploring the fabulous selection of art galleries in Lincoln, there are many other ways you can dip into the city’s creative scene. Here are a few more ideas.
Street art in Lincoln
Colourful street art is becoming a more common sight around Lincoln. Keep your eyes out for giant murals on walls and under bridges when wandering beyond the city centre.
One stunning example can be found on Kirkby Street in the Sincil Bank area of the city. A giant mural by French street artist Zabou – dubbed ‘La Sincil Banksy’, as she keeps her identity hidden – depicts Lincolnshire-born Isaac Newton looking through a prism.
The mural was created through the Sincil Bank Art Project, a community initiative aiming to improve the aesthetic of the area. A second mural by UK street artist Sophie Mess depicting the clematis ‘Lincoln Star’ flower has also been completed nearby on Trollope Street.
Closer to the city centre, a mural by Newark artist James Mayle pays homage to Lincoln’s maritime history on the wall of the walkway beneath the bridge of the Brayford underpass.
See our feature story on street art in Lincoln to find out more about the city’s murals and how they came about.
Lincoln Makers Market
Lincoln has street market traditions that date back centuries, with various different themed markets taking place regularly throughout the year.
On the first Saturday of every month (except January), a collection of local artists and craft experts come together in Castle Square to display and sell their work.
There are also extra dates added in December and on May Bank Holiday weekend.
Community events and street exhibitions
A diverse range of events are hosted in Lincoln through the year celebrating different forms of art. The University of Lincoln College of Arts holds the Lincoln Festival of Creativity in June and July, shining a spotlight on creativity in the city and beyond, and student talent in particular.
Creativity has also taken to the streets in Lincoln through special initiatives such as the Lincoln Imp Trail, last held in 2021, when dozens of hand-painted imp sculptures are displayed around the city. The event was run by local businesses and community groups in support of local charity St Barnabas Lincolnshire Hospice.
Towards the end of October, Lincoln plays host to the Frequency International Festival of Digital Culture, funded by the Arts Council England. Digital art is a big part of of the event, with various displays and experiences across the city.
Independent art and craft shops
Lincoln’s artistic spirit can be seen in the many independent shops that breathe life into the city centre. Steep Hill is at the heart of this, and here you will find an array of shops selling various handcrafted goods.
Lapid Art, for example, is a family-run shop on Steep Hill that has been selling handcrafted crystals, fossils, minerals and amber jewellery for over 25 years.
Our guide to Steep Hill Lincoln gives an in-depth account of what else you can expect to find on the city’s most creative street.
Inside the café at Lincoln Cathedral
When Lincoln Cathedral opened a new café and shop in a restored space on its complex, the work of local artists was made an important part of the layout.
In the café seating area, for example, illustrations of the Cathedral Quarter by local artist Toni Stefaniuk are hung on the walls.
Look out for more local art and photography on the walls of restaurants, tea rooms, pubs and cafés. Lincoln is a city that is proud of its talent, and not shy about showing it!
Exploring Lincoln’s art scene in a day
Want to spend a day out discovering Lincoln’s creative side? Check out our five itinerary ideas for a day out in Lincoln. One of the itineraries is tailored for art lovers, and incorporates visits to several of the galleries mentioned above.
Map of art galleries in Lincoln
The map below shows the locations of the art galleries in Lincoln featured in this article:
Looking for more activities in and around the city? See our rundown of the best things to do in Lincoln.
Have you visited art galleries in Lincoln while exploring? Let us know about your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.