The world’s largest and most visited modern art museum, the Tate Modern hosts over 5 million visitors every year! Holding The National Collection of a British Art dating back to 1900, the Tate Modern is on the top of many tourists’ must-see lists when visiting London.
History of the Building
An iconic part of the London skyline, the Tate Modern collection is actually housed in an old power station. Bankside Power Station was designed by architect Giles Gilbert Scott and built between 1947 and 1963. When the power station closed in 1981, it sat abandoned on the Thames until the Tate collection moved in and was opened to the public in 2000.
Nowadays the most recognisable part of the building is the chimney. Rising 325ft into the air, the chimney is made almost entirely of brick and stands directly opposite St Paul’s Cathedral on the other side of the river.
Of particular note is the old turbine hall. Once housing electricity generators, the turbine hall at the Tate is over five storeys tall and boasts 3,400 square metres of floor space. It is here that large specially-commissioned art pieces are displayed, with the works and artists changing regularly.
The Tate Modern has 7 floors that hold galleries on the first 4. Galleries and displays are not chronological but arranged by themes. As of today there are four exhibition galleries as follows:
- Poetry And Dream - Works of surrealism.
- Structure and Clarity - Space dedicated to abstract art.
- Transformed Visions - Abstract Impressionism after WWII.
- Energy and Process - Holds Arte Povera
- Setting the Scene - Located between wings, works of art here all have theatrical of literary themes.
Notable Turbine Hall Installations
The works put together and displayed in the Turbine Hall tend to be the most-visited and most talked-about exhibits that the Tate displays. Ever-changing, the works to be viewed here are often times larger-than-life as the Turbine Hall holds one of the largest single-room exhibition spaces in the entire country.
Some of the most well-known or memorable pieces to be shown in the Turbine Hall are listed here -
‘Shibboleth’ by Doris Salcedo - A 548ft long crack in the floor of the turbine hall. During the first month of the display, 15 people were injured along the crack, but all injuries were minor.
‘Test Site’ by Carsten Holler - A series of metallic slides available to the public to use. Five slides in total, running from the second floor down.
‘The weather project’ by Olafur Eliasson - A dramatic visitor experience with a fine mist circulating I. The hall as well as hundreds of lamps casting yellow light. A gigantic mirror on the ceiling allowed visitors to see their shrouded shadows against the backdrop of the yellow light.
‘For The Love of God’ by Damien Hirst - Although displayed in the turbine hall, this piece is different from the other larger pieces traditionally displayed there. A platinum cast of a real human skull encrusted with over 8,000 flawless diamonds.
Visiting the Tate Modern
- 10:00 – 18:00 Sunday to Thursday
- 10:00 – 22:00 Friday and Saturday
London, SE1 9TG
- Nearest Underground Stations are Southwark, Blackfriars and St. Paul’s
- Bus Routes are 45, 63, 100, RV1, 381, 344
- Nearest Rail Stations are London Bridge and Blackfriars
Top Tip: The Tate Cafe and Espresso Bar – as well as the Restaurant – all provide magnificent views over the River Thames towards St. Paul’s Cathedral and the city so plan to enjoy an afternoon coffee or have your lunch whilst visiting.
Inside Tip: At lunchtimes in the restaurant and cafe, children can eat FREE when with an adult who has a meal from the main menu!