From the outside, the Tate Modern doesn’t look like a museum at all: the dark, gloomy, industrial-looking building looks like a factory or a warehouse. Funnily enough, it is originally an industrial building – the gallery works in a former power plant building, and that’s not the only original thing here.
Everything in the Tate Modern Gallery is unique: the paintings (which include works by Picasso, Malevich, Kandinsky and many others), the building, the decoration, the combination with the cityscape…
The uniqueness of the building
This gallery was separated from the Tate Gallery in 1982, and since then it has been considered independent. It was decided to build it on the site of the old power station on the banks of the Thames, which was about to be demolished.
Many people felt sorry for the power station: it was the creation of the famous architect – Giles Gilbert Scott (more precisely, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott), the creator of Waterloo Bridge, the world famous English red telephone boxes and two power stations of the original shape.
By the way, the second power station built by Scott, Battersea Power Station, is also a city landmark – it adorns the cover of one of Pink Floyd’s albums and is featured in the Beatles’ videos.
So, it was decided to demolish the power plant and build a new building, for which a competition was announced. But one company came up with the most interesting option for that competition, which was to convert the old power plant building into a gallery. It won the competition by a huge margin, and that’s how it was done: the old building was converted and the gallery is still open in it.
“Tate Modern is Britain’s national contemporary art gallery, one of the most visited in London. Everything in it is unique: the paintings (among which there are works by Picasso, Malevich and Kandinsky), the building, the decoration, the combination with the cityscape…
The power plant kept its external form, the reconstruction was carried out only inside: electric equipment was removed, museum equipment was installed, preserving all the basic premises and elements. The result was absolutely unique: avant-garde paintings on the background of industrial structures and dark brick, surrealistic light and technical parts of the building somehow organically match each other, intensifying the impression. The huge turbine hall is used for equally huge temporary exhibits, and the former oil tanks are used for temporary exhibitions.
All in all, even if you are not an avant-garde fan, it is worth going here to see the building and its combination with the collection: it is absolutely unique, there are no analogues in the world. By the way, it’s on Britain’s National Heritage List.
“Tate Modern exhibits only modern art (all its exhibits are created no earlier than 1900) and only modern genres – impressionism (the earliest genre represented), abstractionism, cubism, surrealism, pop art, etc. There are paintings, sculpture, posters, installations and more.
The permanent exhibitions consist mainly of innovators known or already classics. There are canvases by Kandinsky, Malevich, and Picasso, the Impressionism collection includes works by Claude Monet and Matisse (although the Impressionism collection here is small), original posters by Andy Warhol, and much more.
There are also several temporary exhibitions going on all the time, usually either by contemporary artists or by visiting exhibitions of something really rare. There are never any bad or uninteresting exhibitions there: “The Tate Modern is very, very serious.
The gallery is designed for connoisseurs of modern art, as they say, “connoisseurs of the genre” and it’s useless to look for something traditional there. If you are not a fan of modernist “-isms”, it is still worth coming: to see the building, it is really very rare and unusual thing.
Admission is free for all, but some temporary exhibitions may have a fee.
The gallery is open Friday and Saturday from 10:00 to 22:00 and Sunday to Thursday from 10:00 to 18:00.
The official address is London SE1 9TG, Bankside, Tate Modern and it is quite far from the metro, the nearest stations are Blackfriars, London Bridge and Southwark.
Most visitors get there on foot, either by walking along the river on the right bank of the Thames or across the famous Millennium footbridge which runs from St Paul’s Cathedral.
Around the gallery
Those who want to stroll along the river will find a pleasant promenade that goes past bridges, riverside pubs, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the old part of London across the river. Those who want to combine a visit to the gallery with a tour of the City will find plenty of its sights: St. Paul’s Cathedral, the old City churches, the English Bank, and, a little further away, the Tower and Tower Bridge.
Along the river (on the same side as the gallery) there are many different cafes and small restaurants, usually not bad, the prices there are a little higher than the city average, but the view from the window is wonderful.
- Monday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
- Tuesday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
- Wednesday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
- Thursday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
- Friday 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
- Saturday 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
- Sunday 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM