Tourist Information Guide

Visitor's Guide To The Tate Modern Art Gallery

Page Content

The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern
A thrilling way to approach the Tate Modern art museum is across the Millennium Bridge. As you cross the River Thames, you will feel the breeze from the water whistle past your cheeks and hear the river rush by. From your vantage point above the river, you will have the chance to see the full height and breadth of the renovated power station that is the Tate Modern. The stark lines and 99 metre height of the building make for an awe-inspiring vision. You will enter the simple glass doors of the modern art museum and be confronted by a dramatic space - the Turbine Hall. The area slopes down to the centre of the museum - industrial walls and five-storey skylights lead you to the tickets area. Depending on what temporary installation is in residence during your trip, the hall could be transformed with anything from a giant metal spider to a whole floor full of tiny ceramic sesame seeds that crunch as you walk through them. The gallery's exhibition spaces are light and bright with skylights and perfectly white walls allowing the art to be the main event.

On this page we'll give you an overview of what to expect from the Tate Modern. You will also find out how to get to the Tate Modern, along with contact details (address, telephone number and official website), photos of the art gallery, and what's on in the gallery. We'll give you an overview to ticketing and essential advice on how to get the most from the large gallery space.

Tate Modern overview: what makes the gallery special

Millennium Bridge outside the Tate Modern
Millennium Bridge outside the Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is a modern art gallery that is housed inside a disused power station on the banks of the River Thames. The art works on display cover the period of 1900 to the present day. The Tate Modern museum is 99 metres tall, with seven floors, making it a place where you can come to spend a whole day exploring.

The Tate Modern makes up part of the Tate group - a collection of museums around the UK. The closest is the Tate Gallery (or Tate Britain) that sits across the River Thames and is a more classic art museum, displaying British art from 1500 to the present day. The other galleries are the Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.

Tate  Modern
Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is visited by 4.7 million visitors per year making it one of the most visited modern art galleries in the world.

The Tate Modern first opened its doors in the year 2000. It is housed in the building that used to be the Bankside Power Station. It was designed by the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the man who also designed Battersea Power Station. The power station was built in 1947. When the building was converted into an art gallery, the architecture firm Herzog and de Meuron converted it. The Tate Modern was opened on 11 May 2000 by Queen Elizabeth II.

The permanent collections at the museum are displayed with novel themes. Rather than the chronological way in which collections are displayed in museums like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the Tate Modern they are displayed in conceptual themes: Material Gestures, Poetry & Dream, Energy & Process and States of Flux. This may appear confusing at first, but it helps to put the art into a context that relates to its style or subject rather than simply the period in which it was created.

The museum offers lots of opportunities for interactivity in the art gallery and learn about the art in context. For example there is an area on Level 5 called the Interactive Zone where you can play games, watch videos and read books that relate to the art on display in the gallery. They also offer a phone app called "Tate Trumps" - you can play trump cards relating to the art with your friends whilst you are walking around the gallery (see the Official Tate Modern website Tate Trumps page.

There are two shops at the Tate Modern and they have a reputation as a place to shop regardless of whether you plan to visit the gallery. They offer more than your average souvenirs. There is a wide selection of design products in both shops (everything from jewellery to household items). Also, in the shop on Level 1 you will find a large book shop dedicated to art books.

The Turbine Hall:

The Turbine Hall in the Tate Gallery has become a feature in itself. It is the large sloping foyer area of the gallery - it is five storeys tall with 3,400 square metres of floor space. From October to March each year there are specially commissioned large art installations in the Turbine Hall that are free to visit. Past examples of the installations have included a gigantic metal spider by Louise Bourgeois and a floor covered in 100 million ceramic sunflowers seeds by Ai Weiei. This area is free to enter.

Permanent Exhibitions: There is no need to pay a penny for a trip to the Tate Modern - there are special temporary exhibitions that you will have to pay to enter (see below). However, there are also large sections of the gallery dedicated to their permanent collection, which can be viewed for free. Pick up a map from one of the information desks to find out which areas you can head to and then explore paintings by everybody from Rothko to Lichtenstein to Warhol.

Temporary Exhibitions: The temporary exhibitions change on a regular basis. So it is best to check the official website (see the link below) to find out what will be showing during your visit to the gallery. Past exhibitions have covered everybody from Joan Miro to Louise Bourgeois.

tip If you are feeling slightly overwhelmed when you arrive at the gallery, you can go and pick up a map from the information desks (you will find the desks on floor one and two of the gallery). Let the staff at the information desks know about any particular artists or styles of art that you are interested in and they will give you some advice on where to head to.

Opening times

Monday - Sunday: 10:00 - 18:00

Special temporary exhibitions
Last admission: 17:30

How to get exhibition tickets

For most of the exhibitions at the Tate Modern you will not need to buy tickets - admission to the building is free. However, if you would like to see one of their special temporary exhibitions you will need to buy a ticket. To book tickets for the Tate Modern, you have a number of options:

Box Office: You can buy tickets at the venue itself. The box office has the same Operating hours as the building itself (see below).

Website: Head to the 'current exhibitions' sections of the official website (see link below) and book online by choosing the exhibition that you want to go to and clicking through.

Website: Official 'current exhibitions' page on the Tate Modern website

The Tate Modern Shop

The Tate Modern contains two shops that are more than mere souvenir shops. You can buy interesting books, art design products and even jewellery. The largest shop sits on level one of the building and houses a large collection of art books for all ages. The smaller shop is on level two of the building and is described as a 'best of' collection, offering some of the most popular products from the larger shop. To find out about the opening times, location and what you can buy at the Tate Modern shops, see the Official Tate Modern Website Shopping page.

Contact details

Tate Modern

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7887 8888

Email: [email protected]
Website: Official Tate Modern Website

Closest tube

Tube Tube: London Bridge (Black Line / Northern Line and Grey Line / Jubilee Line)

When you exit London Bridge station you will find yourself just outside of the large Borough Market building. Head towards Southwark Bridge where you will find steps down the side of the bridge that will take you to the banks of the River Tames - an area called Bankside. Once you are at Bankside simply walk fir a few minutes and you will see the large Tate Modern building in front of you on your left. This is not a difficult journey to walk - it takes about five minutes in total and on exiting the tube station you will see signs that you can follow for the Tate Modern.

Restaurants in and around the gallery

The Tate Modern sits in an area where you are spoilt for choice if you are looking for a place to get something to eat. In the Tate Modern itself you will find a formal restaurant and two more laid back cafes.

The Kitchen and Bar restaurant in the Tate Modern sits on the 6th floor of the building. It offers seasonal produce in attractive surroundings - windows allow for views over the Thames. If you would like to book here (particularly at the weekend), it is worth booking in advance. To find out more about opening times, what's on offer and how to make a reservation, see the Official Tate website Kitchen & Bar Restaurant page.

For something slightly more relaxed and affordable there is a café called Level 1 Members Bar. This sits on level one of the building and is riverside, offering views along the Thames. Here you can have teas, coffees and light meals. For details on the menus and opening times, see the Official Tate Modern website Level 1 Members Bar page.

If you fancy heading further afield there are a number of good quality restaurants within easy walking distance of the Tate Modern. These include:

Canteen Restaurant,
Strada Restaurant
Ping Pong and
Giraffe Restaurant.

For a more general overview to the restaurants that can be found in the Waterloo area, check out our Guide to Restaurants in Waterloo.

Anchor pub a few mintues walk from Tate Modern

Anchor pub near Tate Modern

Parking in the area

Unfortunately, the Southbank area does not have its own car park. There are also no parking spaces (unless you are a disabled driver) in the streets surrounding the Tate Modern. The closest car park to the Tate Modern is at the National Theatre - about ten minutes' walk from the gallery. To find out more about the parking at the National Theatre, including opening times, location and prices, see the National Theatre Official Website Car Park page.

If you are an art lover you may like to visit the Tate Britain on the same day as the Tate Modern. The Tate Britain sits at the other side of the Thames and it offers the opportunity to see art of a more classic nature. There is a boat that goes between the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain and this runs every forty minutes between the galleries. To find out more about ticket prices and running times, see the Official Tate Website Tate Boat page.

The Tate Modern houses some important works of art and you will find something there to entertain every member of the family.

Back To The Top Of The Page