What to see at Tate Britain in London: timetables, prices and advice

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Martí Micolau

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Visiting Tate Britain means setting out on a trip to over 500 years of British art: it is here, in fact, on the banks of the Thames in an elegant neoclassical building, which is collected the largest collection of British art of the world, including masterpieces by Turner, William Blake, Francis Bakon, John Constable and many other artists who have made school. Let's find out what to see at Tate Britain in London.


  1. What to see and how to visit Tate Britain
  2. The William Turner Collection
  3. Walk Throught British Art
  4. The section of the Pre-Raphaelites
  5. English postwar art
  6. British art from the early twentieth century to the war
  7. The Turner Prize
  8. Hours and prices
  9. User questions and comments

What to see and how to visit Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is only part of the original Tate Gallery in London established in 1890 by Sir Henry Tate: it is currently divided into Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.
Tate Britain is entirely dedicated to British art: ample space is given to historical collections, but there is no lack of some contemporary works. The exhibits are organized chronologically: some rooms are dedicated specifically to the work of an author, while others provide a broader overview of certain historical periods. The gallery also organizes temporary and retrospective exhibitions dedicated to strictly British artists.

Among the works exhibited at Tate Britain is Blizzard: Hannibal and his army cross the Alps of William Turner, one of the most famous and celebrated British painters. For this painting it is said that it was inspired not only by the historical theme of the painting, but also by the political situation between France and England at the time it was painted. Furthermore, Turner was strongly influenced by a terrible snowstorm that hit him in Yorkshire in 1810.

Also not to be missed is Newton, a monotype by William Blake, which is a printed engraving to which color was subsequently applied. The work portrays the English mathematician and physicist sitting on a rock, naked and intent on analyzing diagrams and drawings.

1 - The William Turner Collection

La William Turner Collection, housed in the Clore Gallery, is mainly made up of the "Turner legacy", that is the set of works left by the artist to the State: it is about 300 oil paintings and over 30.000 sketches, drawings and watercolors of what has been defined "the painter of light ". Subsequently, Tate Britain made this collection even more complete by purchasing other works by the most celebrated British artist.
Among the most famous canvases on display are Self-portrait, Rome seen from the Vatican, Norham Castle: dawn and Chichester Canal.

2 - Walk Throught British Art

The collection, located on the ground floor, offers an insight into 500 years of British art history. The paintings are organized in different rooms and are exhibited in chronological order: you can visit them starting from the works ranging from 1540 to 1650 and then continue up to the present day or you can let yourself be guided by the emotions that the paintings arouse in you.

3 - The section of the Pre-Raphaelites

The section of works belonging to this artistic movement is among the richest in the world and includes works by English painters such as Edward Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt, Ford Madox Brown and John Everett Millais.

4 - English Post-War Art

Another of the flagships of Tate Britain is the section dedicated to post-war English art. In these rooms the works of Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland, David Hockney, Lucien Freud, Ben Nicholson and Victor Pasmore emerge in particular. More in detail, two rooms are dedicated to Henry Moore, in which over 30 works are collected, among which the sculpture Recumbent Figure 1938 stands out, the first work by Moore to become part of the Tate collection.

5 - British art from the early twentieth century to the war

This section of Tate Britain exhibits perhaps lesser known but no less important works, all made between the early twentieth century and the Second World War. Prominent names include Stanley Spencer, David Bomberg, Paul Nash, Jacob Epstein and Edward Burra.

6 - The Turner Prize

Annually, Tate Britain also hosts the exhibition that awards the Turner Prize, a contemporary art prize that is awarded annually to a British artist under the age of 50. Often the "innovative" works on display arouse controversy and disputes, which receive extensive media coverage.

Hours and prices

  • open every day from 10:00 to 17:50. On some Friday days reported on the official website, the opening is extended until 21:00. The museum is closed from 24 to 26 December.
  • Best time to avoid queues: if you want to visit Tate Britain at its best, keep in mind that the Museum organizes free guided tours every day (at 11:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:00). If, on the other hand, you want to take a tour independently you can prefer other times just to avoid the presence of visiting groups.
  • the visit to the permanent collection is free, while admission to the Temporary Exhibitions is subject to a fee. Tate is a charity that relies on donations from visitors: the suggested offer is £ 4 (around € 4,60).

Useful tips for visiting the attraction

  1. Get up early: the ideal would be to reach the entrance at the opening time, at 10:00, so that you can visit the museum at your leisure.
  2. Become a Tate Member: if you are planning a long stay in London you can register as a Tate Member so that you can also have free access to exhibitions that would normally be paid.
  3. Watch out for restrictions: for safety reasons, bags that exceed the size of a hand luggage (55x40x20 cm), as well as sports equipment and musical instruments, cannot be brought into the museum rooms.
  4. Minimum time: the minimum visiting time depends on how much attention you want to devote to each exhibited work; the minimum recommended for an individual visit is at least an hour and a half. Guided tours, on the other hand, last from 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Tate WiFi and App: if you have a smartphone, while visiting Tate Britain you can access the Tate WiFi for free and discover the museum guide for mobile phones and a series of applications that you can use to make your visit more interactive and interesting.

Where is it and how to get there

  • On foot: located on the north bank of the Thames, in the borough of Westminster, and is easily accessible on foot, about 25 minutes - Get directions
  • By bus: it can be reached with the urban bus lines 2,36, 87, 88, 185, 436 and C10.
  • By metro: Victoria Line Pimlico and Vauxhall stops and Westminster stop (on the Jubilee, Distric and Circle lines) are approximately 15 minutes' walk from the museum entrance.
  • On a boat: a further possibility to get to Tate Britain is given by the tate Boat, which shuttles every 40 minutes between the two tunnels during the opening hours of Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

Historical notes and curiosities: what to know in brief

The history of the Tate starts from afar: the idea of ​​a British art museum was first proposed by Sir John Leicester in 1820, but for the realization of what was initially called the National Gallery of British Art it was necessary to wait until 1847 ; it is the current Victoria and Albert Museum.
He was the art collector Henry Tate that forty years later he financed the building of the present Tate Britain; subsequently the collections housed increased to such an extent that it was necessary to divide them into several buildings. Currently Tate Britain is an integral part of a complex of four British museums and is one of two in London, along with the Tate Modern; the other two are located in Liverpool and St Ives, Cornwall. The two London Tates are both located on the banks of the Thames and are connected by a ship that shuttles between the two buildings.
The original Tate Britain has also expanded over the years: in 1987 the Clore Wing and a 200-seat auditorium was inaugurated, while in 2001 the areas available to the public were developed.

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