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Tate Britain and Tate National: A Visitor's Guide

Tate Britain and Tate National - once collectively known as the Tate Gallery - together comprise one of Britain's largest art collections. Opened by sugar magnate Sir Henry Tate in 1897 as the basis of a national collection of significant British art, the gallery increased its acquisitions of modern and contemporary art, forcing it to seek more space to properly display its collections. The end result is an interesting compromise that saw the existing classical structure on Millbank on the north side of the Thames being used to house its permanent collection of historic British paintings, while the modern art collections were moved across the Thames to a transformed former power station.

For art lovers, it's a double treat, and a whole day can be spent viewing both sites, conveniently connected by a high-speed ferry.

Tate Britain: The British and Turner Collections at Millbank

Tate Britain: The British and Turner Collections at Millbank
Tate Britain: The British and Turner Collections at Millbank
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Tate Britain's British Collection includes numerous drawings and engravings by William Blake (Newton), William Dobson (Endymion Porter), portraits by Peter Lely, works by William Hogarth (O the Roast Beef of Old England/The Gate of Calais), landscapes by Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, Richard Wilson and George Stubbs, as well as works by Edwin Landseer and Henry Fuseli. The landscapes of John Constable (Old Chain Pier, Brighton) are renowned. Works from the 19th century include John Everett Millais (Christ in the house of His Parents) and James Abbott McNeill Whistler (Nocturne in Blue and gold: Old Battersea Bridge).

It's impressive Turner Collection is located in the Clore Gallery, a two-story building named after art patron Sir Charles Clore and designed by Scottish architect James Stirling. As the gallery can only show a third of its collection at any one time, exhibited items are rotated regularly.

Tate Modern: The Contemporary and Modern Collections at Bankside

Tate Modern: The Contemporary and Modern Collections at Bankside
Tate Modern: The Contemporary and Modern Collections at Bankside
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Tate National's collection of modern sculpture contains works by Auguste Rodin, Aristide Maillol, Ivan Mestrovic, Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore. The collection of modern foreign painting chiefly contains works of the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Henri Rousseau, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Marc Chagall. Cubists, such as Georges Braque (Mandolin) and Fernand Léger are exhibited, and a later work of Pablo Picasso (Reclining Nude with Necklace).

The Dadaists and Surrealists Giorgio de Chirico, Max Ernst, Paul Klee, Salvador Dali and Joan Miró are represented, alongside examples of Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimal Art and Conceptual Art. Contemporary artists include Joseph Beuys, Mark Rothko (Seagram Murals), Tony Cragg (On the Savannah) and Lucian Freud (Standing by the Rags).

Touring London's Twin Tates

Tate Britain: Free 45-minute guided tours focusing on different areas of the gallery are offered daily at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm. Private group tours are also available, as are private "couples" tours, complete with dinner options. Also of interest are special Friday "Late at the Tate" events (free) with talks, tours and films (check the gallery's What's On page for more information).

Tate Modern: Free 45-minute guided tours focusing on different areas of the gallery are offered daily at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm. Private group and "couples" tours are also available. Excellent state-of-the-art multimedia guides are also available and include artist interviews, games and art-inspired music (family versions are available). Visit the Multimedia Desk (level 2) to pick one up (cost, £4).

Tips and Tactics: How to Make the Most of Your Visits to Tate Britain and Tate National

The following Tips and Tactics will help ensure you get the most out of your visits to Tate Britain and Tate National:

  • Shopping: Each location has onsite shopping facilities offering prints, books, gifts and souvenirs related to their exhibits.
  • Cloakrooms: Cloakrooms are provided free of charge at both locations.
  • What's On: Exhibited items are frequently rotated, so be sure to check the Tate group's website for news and updates.
  • Walking: There's a lot of walking involved, particularly if you're planning on tackling both London Tate locations in a single day - if so, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Food and Drink: Both locations offer a variety of dining and beverage options, as well as drinking fountains. If you prefer to do it yourself, try a Thames-side picnic.

Getting to Tate Britain

  • By Underground (Tube): The nearest underground stations are Pimlico and Vauxhall (Victoria line), and Westminster (Jubilee, District and Circle lines).
  • By Train: The nearest railway stations are Vauxhall and Victoria, each an easy walk from Tate Britain. (For details of links to London from across the country, visit www.nationalrail.co.uk.)
  • By Bus: Routes 87 (Millbank), 88 and C10 (John Islip St), and 2, 36, 185 and 436 (Vauxhall Bridge Rd) will get you within a short walk of Tate Britain.
  • By Boat: The Tate Boat service runs every 40 minutes between Tate Britain and Tate Modern.
  • By Bike: Bicycle racks are located at Tate Britain's Atterbury St and Millbank entrances.
  • By Road: Driving in London is not recommended, and is subject to Congestion Charges. Your best option is to park at an outlying train station and take the train or underground.
  • Parking: Limited pay and display street parking is available around Tate Britain (weekends are sometimes better).

Getting to Tate National

  • By Underground (Tube): The nearest underground stations are Southwark (Jubilee line), Blackfriars (District and Circle lines), and St Paul's (Central line).
  • By Train: The nearest railway stations are Blackfriars and London Bridge, each an easy walk from Tate National. (For details of links to London from across the country, visit www.nationalrail.co.uk.)
  • By Bus: Routes 45, 63 and 100 (Blackfriars Bridge Rd), Routes RV1 and 381 (Southwark St) and Route 344 (Southwark Bridge Rd) will get you within a short walk of Tate National.
  • By Boat: The Tate Boat service runs every 40 minutes between Tate Britain and Tate Modern.
  • By Road: Driving in the center of London is not recommended, and is subject to Congestion Charges. Your best option is to park at an outlying train station and use public transport.
  • Parking: There is no on-site or on street parking at Tate Modern.

Hours

  • Tate Britain - Daily, 10am-6pm
  • Tate Modern - Sun-Thurs, 10am-6pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-10pm

Admission

  • Tate Britain - Free
  • Tate Modern - Free

Address

  • Tate Britain - Millbank, London
  • Tate Modern - Bankside, London
  • www.tate.org.uk

What's Near London's Two Tates?

One of the highlights of a visit to Tate Britain and Tate Modern is the excellent fast ferry service connecting the two locations. It doesn't take long, but it will give you an excellent idea of what to things to see and do when you're done. As you zoom along the River Thames (assuming you started at Tate Britain) you'll get excellent views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, as well as Westminster Abbey. On the opposite bank (the south bank) you'll pass close to the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel offering excellent views of the city, as well as family tourist attractions like the London Dungeon and the London Aquarium.

As you arrive at Tate Modern, you'll get a close up view of the iconic Globe Theatre, an authentic reproduction of Shakespeare's London theater, and the impressive Millennium Bridge, a footbridge that'll take you back across the Thames to wonderful St Paul's Cathedral.

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