Even though it was only established in 2000, the Tate Modern is the most visited museum of modern art in the world. The museum is located in the repurposed Bankside Power Station. This oil-fired power plant was built in the wake of World War II amid power shortages in London. Hastily built between 1947 and 1963, the design and placement were initially unpopular among Londoners, but after it closed in 1981, as oil prices rose and England’s electricity grid was simplified, developers’ plans to demolish the building were met with stiff resistance.
The Tate Gallery came to the rescue in the mid-90s. Britain’s national art collection announced that the power station would be the site of a new modern art museum. The €134 million renovation began in 1995 and was completed in January 2000. The interior and exterior remained largely the same, save for a new glass fixture on the roof. The iconic smokestack still rises 99m over the Thames.
The collection of the Tate Modern dates from 1900 to the present. It is split into five “display themes”: Chromatic Structures; Material Gestures; Poetry and Dream; Energy and Process; Photographic Typologies; and States of Flux. These galleries are housed on the third and fifth floors. There are also displays dedicated to Surrealism, Minimalism, post-war abstraction, Cubism, Futurism, and Vorticism. Temporary exhibitions are held in the first, second, and fourth floors. Modern art definitely isn’t for everybody, but the collection here is second only to MoMA in New York. This is a must see for anyone interested in art.
Address: Bankside, SE1 9TG
Telephone: +44 020 7887 888 or 8008 (recorded information line)
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 10:00-18:00; Friday and Saturday 10:00-22:00.
Free admission (donations welcme); charge for some of the temporary exhibitions.