When it comes to art, London has swathes of galleries and exhibitions to suit pretty much every style you could imagine.
Whether that be the street art of East London or the magnificent paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, there is so much to see across the city. An art lover visiting London would be mad not to visit the English capital’s crowning glory when it comes to expressionism and modern art – the Tate Modern.
Established in the Bankside area of Southwark in 2000, this fascinating gallery has become Britain’s home to both national and international modern art. It forms part of the Tate group, which has branches in Liverpool, St Ives, the Millbrook area of London and an online offering, which has been a collection British art since 1900.
The Tate Modern is housed in the former Bankside Power Station, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who was also behind the Battersea Power Station, which was built between 1947 and 1953. In 1992, The Tate Gallery at the British National Art put forward a proposal to create a new building for modern art.
Architects from across the world were invited to enter a competition for the right to reinvent the UK’s home of modern art. Swiss company Herzog & de Meuron won with its simple design which would regenerate rather than demolish. The company, responsible for other famous buildings such as the Allianz Arena in Munich, set to work in 1995 with the new Tate Modern opening its door five years later.
The Swiss firm adopted a 20th-century approach to the gallery creating a facade of 4.2 million bricks separated by a group of thin vertical windows to help create a dramatic light inside. It documented its design and building process in the 2008 documentary – Architects Herzog and de Meuron: Alchemy of Building & Tate Modern.
If you are visiting the Tate Modern during your stay in London, here are a few things you need to know.
About The Tate Modern
Since its launch at the turn of the millennium, the Tate Modern and has been home to the most thought-provoking works the world of art has ever seen. Inside it consists of seven floors with galleries on the first five. The main collection displays take up around half a complete floor in main building.
When it first opened, the collections were split into four broads groups: History/Memory/Society, Nude/Action/Body, Landscape/Matter/Environment and Still Life/Object/Real Life. It has gone through a number of changes over the years and has showcased the work of some of the best artists around.
The Turbine Hall is the Tate Modern’s home for temporary exhibitions. This building, which formerly housed the electricity generators of the old power station, stretches five stories high and has 3,400 sq m of floor space. This has allowed artists to really get their creative juices flowing and develop some truly memorable exhibits.
The works commissioned over the years include:
Louise Bourgeois – I Do, I Undo, I Redo (May 2000 to November 2000)
Juan Munoz – Double Blind (June 2001 to March 2002)
Anish Kapoor – Marsyas (October 2002 to April 2003)
Olafur Eliasson – The Weather Project (October 2003 – March 2004)
Bruce Nauman – Raw Materials (October 2004 – May 2005)
Rachel Whiteread – EMBANKMENT (October 2005 – May 2006)
Carsten Holler – Test Site (October 2006 – April 2007)
Doris Salcedo – Shibboleth (October 2007 – April 2008)
Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster – TH.2058 (October 2008 – April 2009)
Miroslaw Balka – How It Is (October 2009 – April 2010)
Ai Weiwei – Sunflower Seeds (October 2010 – April 2011)
Tacita Dean – Film (October 2011 – March 2012)
Tino Sehgal – These associations (July 2012 – October 2012)
As always, the Tate Modern has a host of events scheduled for the coming weeks. Both established and up-and-coming artists will be showcasing their talents with visitors able to roam around the exhibitions completely free of charge. Here is just a selection of the current and future exhibits housed at Tate Modern.
BMW Tate Live: If Tate Modern was Musee de la danse? – May 15th to May 16th (12pm to 10pm)
Marlene Dumas: The Image as Burden – February 5th to May 10th
Nicholas Hlobo – open every day
Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin – open every day
The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay – April 15th to August 9th
Around Abstract Art 1920-1935 – open every day
Vanessa Bell and Saloua Raouda Choucair – January 10th 2014 to August 23rd 2015
Agnes Martin – June 3rd to October 11th
Information for Visitors
So you are planning to head to the Tate Modern? Well, you will need to know the basics! The galleries are open throughout the year but opening times do differ depending on which day you want to attend.
Sunday to Thursday – 10am to 6pm (last admission is 5.15pm)
Friday to Saturday – 10am to 10pm (last admission is 9.15pm)
One of the best things about Tate Modern is that it is free to explore but a fee will be added to special exhibitions. You can either inquire when you reach the gallery itself or check the Tate Modern’s website.
Parking at Tate Modern
The Tate Modern strongly advises against driving to the gallery due to the severe lack of parking spaces at the attraction and in the surrounding streets. However, should you need to park up there are car parks not too far away. You will have to head towards London Bridge where there a number of spaces.
Next to the train and Underground station is Jubilee Place Car Park. Prices here start from £4 for zero to two hours and goes up to £26.50 for over ten hours. This tariff is for Monday to Sunday between the 4am and 6pm.
Weekends and Bank Holidays provide three hours’ of free parking in any of the public car parks around Canary Wharf when you spend £10 in the shops, cafes, bars and restaurants throughout the area.
Public transport to Tate Modern
The easiest and most convenient way of reaching Tate Modern is by public transport. There are excellent bus, Tube and train links to the area making it a simple walk to the gallery. Here is what you need to know about travelling to attraction.
The nearest London Underground stations to Tate Modern are:
Southwark – served by Jubilee line
Blackfriars – served by District and Circle Line
St Pauls – served by Central line
London Bridge – served by Jubilee and Northern line
You have a couple of options when arriving by train:
London Bridge – served by Southern, Thameslink and Southeastern trains
Blackfriars – served by Thameslink and Southeastern trains
There are various bus routes near to Tate Modern and you jump off at the following stops:
Blackfriars Bridge Road – routes 45, 63 and 100
Southwark Street – routes RV1 and 381
Southwark Bridge Road – route 344
What to see around Tate Modern
Once you have had your fill of Tate Modern there are plenty of things to see and do around the gallery. Sitting on the bank of the River Thames you have this famous city at your disposal and there is so much going on around the Tate itself. Here are just a selection of what is available around the site.
Bankside Gallery – 48 Hopton Street, Bankside
The Shard – 96 Tooley Street, Bankside
The Monument – Fish Street Hill, City of London
Millennium Bridge – River Thames, City of London
Tower Bridge – Tower Bridge, Bankside
HMS Belfast – Morgan’s Lane, Tooley Street, Bankside
St Paul’s Cathedral – St Paul’s Churchyard, City of London
Design Museum – 28 Shad Thames, Bankside
Entertainment around Tate Modern
Looking for a slice of entertainment to top your evening off? Well, you are in luck as there are plenty of theatres, comedy clubs and trendy bars that will allow you to have a great time once you have finished with your Tate Modern experience. Here are a selection of the fashionable places to wind down after a long day.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside
The Jellyfish Theatre – Marlborough Playground, 11-25 Union Street
The Young Vic – 66 The Cut, South Bank
BFI IMAX Cinema – 1 Charlie Chaplin Walk, South Bank
Old Vic Theatre – 103 The Cut, South Bank
Southbank Centre – Belvedere Road, South Bank
Barbican Centre – Silk Street, City of London
Shaftesbury Theatre – 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, Covent Garden
The 99 Club – Storm Nightclub, 28a Leicester Square, Soho
Nightlife around Tate Modern
Wanting to cap the perfect day off with a few cocktails or flagons of real English ale? Well, Tate Modern is surrounded by a wealth of pubs and bars that will be right up your street when it comes to relaxing at the end of the day. Here are our recommendations of public houses near the gallery.
Call Me Mr Lucky – The Breakfast Club, SE1
Wheatsheaf – 6 Stoney Street, Bankside
The George Inn Yard – 77 Borough High Street, Southwark
The Rake – 14 Winchester Walk, Borough, Bankside
Gong – 31 St Thomas Street, SE1
Viva Verdi – 6 Canvey Street, Bankside
Hide Bar – 39-45 Bermondsey Street, SE1
The Anchor Tap – 23 Horsleydown Road, Bermondsey
The Thirsty Bear – 62 Stamford Street, SE1