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Located on the south bank of the River Thames, London’s Tate Modern is a somewhat imposing structure. Housed in the former site of the old Bankside Power Station, the brick chimney and rather unwelcoming initial appearance of the art gallery provide a great contrast to the bright spaces and eye-catching works of its interior.
With art from around the world dating from the turn of the 20th century to today, the Tate Modern should be at the top of every modern art lover’s bucket list during a trip to the UK capital.
Here are four reasons to stop by the gallery during a visit to London in early 2017:
1. View Sir Elton John’s photography collection
Visitors to the Tate Modern before May 7th 2017 will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see part of Sir Elton John’s private modernist photography collection, which features around 150 prints taken by more than 70 artists from the 1920s to 1950s.
Titled ‘The Radical Eye’, this special exhibition features photographs by artists including Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange and Aleksandr Rodchenko, with images on display portraying hugely influential figures from the art world, including early portraits of Matisse and Picasso themselves.
Sir Elton has made a recording to accompany this rare look inside his magnificent collection, although it’s not the sounds of one of his chart-toppers that visitors will hear through their headsets, but rather an explanation from the Rocket Man himself on the story behind the captivating images on display.
2. See work by ‘America’s Leonardo da Vinci’
For those heading to the Tate Modern before April 2nd 2017, the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition is a must-see. Dubbed ‘America’s Leonardo’ by the Observer, Rauschenberg is widely regarded as the artist who changed American art forever.
Tate Modern has collaborated with the Museum of Modern Art in New York to put together this innovative exhibition, following Rauschenberg’s death in 2008. It consists of a series of rooms that take visitors on a journey through the artist’s life and works, as he experimented with different styles and took inspiration from his vibrant surroundings in New York City.
The man who sent a drawing to the moon has a whole host of other extraordinary visual delights for art lovers to discover, with a stuffed angora goat sitting alongside 1,000 gallons of bentonite mud that bubbles to its own rhythm. There are also slightly more traditional works on display as part of this exhibit, including a range of fascinating silkscreen paintings.
3. Take in the art of London’s skyline
Aside from its eclectic exhibitions, the Tate Modern has another big draw for visitors to the capital, as its 360-degree viewing platform offers stunning views of the city across the River Thames and beyond.
Visitors with a head for heights will be able to see as far afield as Wembley Stadium and Canary Wharf, while iconic sights including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament and adjoining Big Ben clock tower can be seen a little closer to the gallery itself.
4. Free entry and an ideal location
Another great reason to visit the Tate Modern is that it’s free of charge to enter, although there is usually a small fee attached to special exhibitions, unless visitors sign up to become members of the gallery.
With a prime location on the south bank of the Thames, the Tate is easily reachable from most London hotels, and is just a 20-minute bus ride (via the number 100 service) from the London City Suites by Montcalm hotel. In fact, this would be the perfect spot to stay for those planning on soaking up as much of the capital’s culture as possible during their visit, as it is within easy reach of a multitude of museums and galleries.