On the banks of the River Thames are two of London's most important museums: Tate Britain and Tate Modern. The classic Tate Britain building, which has undergone a complete transformation in 2013, displays an impressive collection of British art dating from 1500 to today. Tate Modern, housed in an old power station, boasts an industrial setting where the space and light complement the exhibits of international modern and contemporary art.
The Tate Gallery encompasses a network of 4 museums in England: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives. The Gallery was named after Henry Tate, an art collector who made his fortune with sugar plantations. In 1897 he donated part of his fortune to the British government to found a national art museum. Tate Britain and Tate Modern are connected by a fast boat shuttle across the Thames. The interior and exterior of the Tate Modern were designed by famous artist Damien Hirst.
The Tate museums display older and contemporary British art in chronological order, so you can literally take a walk through time. The collection includes masterpieces by Gainsborough, Hogarth, Millais and Whistler. Modern and contemporary artists on display include famous names such as Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst. Tate Britain also contains the world’s largest collection of works by William Turner.
Every year, the Tate Gallery awards the Turner Prize to a British artist. This prestigious and high-profile art prize has been awarded to artists such as Damien Hirst, for his cross-section of a cow and calf in formaldehyde, as well as to Chris Ofili, who has created three-dimensional paintings made from elephant dung.
The renovation of the oldest part of Tate Britain was designed by leading architectural firm Caruso St John. This project followed the opening of 10 new galleries in May 2013, which now makes it possible to view the artworks in chronological order. The £45 million construction project includes another new gallery that will house exhibitions that showcase impressive collections of letters written by British artists. Several modern artists have been invited to contribute to the new building; Richard Wright created the hand-blown glass for the Millbank Lobby, and Alan Johnston made the ceiling painting in the Djanogly Café.
Tate Modern is one of the most visited museums in the world. The former Turbine Hall of the Tate is 160 metres long, 23 metres wide and 40 metres high. Around the hall are 85 rooms spread out over 7 stories. The famous Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron redesigned the power plant whilst preserving its industrial past. The most eye-catching addition is a 2-story high glass box that runs across the entire length of the building. The museum displays art by masters such as Cézanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Rothko, Dalí, Pollock, Warhol and Bourgeois. The restaurant on the 7th floor offers a beautiful view of the Thames, the city and St. Paul’s Cathedral.