Tate Britain Review
The stately neoclassical institution may not be as ambitious as its sibling Tate Modern on the South Bank, but Tate Britain's bright galleries lure only a fraction of the Modern's overwhelming crowds and are a great place to explore British art from 1500 to the present. First opened in 1897, funded by the sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate, the museum includes the Linbury Galleries on the lower floors, which stage temporary exhibitions, and a permanent collection on the upper floors. And what a collection it is—classic works by John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, David Wilkie, Francis Bacon, Duncan Grant, Barbara Hepworth, and Ben Nicholson, and an outstanding display from J.M.W. Turner in the Clore Gallery, including many later vaporous and light-infused works such as Sunrise with Sea Monsters. Sumptuous Pre-Raphaelite pieces are a major draw, while the Contemporary British Art galleries bring you face to face with Damien Hirst's Away from the Flock and other recent conceptions. The Tate Britain also hosts the annual Turner Prize exhibition, with its accompanying furor over the state of contemporary art, from about October to January each year. Details of activities for families are on the website. There's a good little café, and the excellent Rex Whistler Restaurant has been something of an institution since it first opened in 1927. It's open daily for lunch, but evening hours are mercurial to say the least—you can dine here only on the first Friday of December, February, April, June, August, and October.
Craving more art? Head down the river on the Tate to Tate boat (£6.50 one way) to the Tate Modern, running between the two museums every 40 minutes. A River Roamer ticket (£15) permits a day's travel, with stops including the London Eye and the Tower of London. You get a discount of roughly a third if you have a Travelcard.
- Address: Millbank, Westminster, London, SW1P 4RG | Map It
- Phone: 020/7887–8888
- Cost: Free, special exhibitions £9–£15
- Hours: Sat.–Thurs. 10–6 (last entry at 5:15), Fri. 10–10 (last entry at 9:15)
- Website: www.tate.org.uk/britain
- Subway: Pimlico
- Location: Westminster and Royal London
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