A Handy Visitor Guide to Tate Modern

March 13, 2020 by Aura Originals in Museums

About the Museum

Are you a fan of modern and contemporary art? A visit to London is not complete without seeing the most popular modern and contemporary art gallery in the world: Tate Modern. Part of the Tate family, - which also includes Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St Ives - Tate Modern hosts a treasury of unmissable international and influential modern art. With artworks dating only as far back as 1900, it's difficult to imagine how sad and empty London's modern art scene must have been before this place opened.

Did you know that this art gallery is the UK's most-visited attraction? Tate Modern, in fact, has recently overtaken the renowned and classic British Museum, welcoming more than 5.7 million visitors through its doors each year, which is approximately equal to the population of Finland. Not just limited to artwork by artists like Dalí, Picasso and Pollock, Tate Modern also contains a permanent collection of performance, photography, film, installation, and live art exhibits that is worth seeing.

General Info

Dominating the river at Bankside, Tate Modern is not just an art gallery but also a piece of art and modernity itself. This incredible building presents a combination of the raw and the refined, of the industrial space and of the impressive contemporary architecture. Before entering the building, look at the façade, and you will notice that the structure looks like a real industry, but if you walk around the corner, you will be surprised by many little bricks of the Switch House that create illusionary effects on the visitors. Once you are in, head downstairs and take a moment to wander around this fascinating place; a unique and unforgettable energy will capture you and guide you from the Turbine Hall (the heart of the building) up to the top floor galleries.

A recent history…but with fragments from the past

The gallery was founded in 1897, as the National Gallery of British Art. It was then renamed Tate Gallery after the magnate Henry Tate, who contributed to the foundation of the collection. Initially, the Tate collection was held in the current building occupied by Tate Britain, but after the creations of Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives, the decision was made to establish a new gallery specifically for modern and international art, called Tate Modern.

Sitting in front of St Paul's Cathedral and linked to it by the extraordinary Millennium Bridge, Tate Modern opened its doors in 2000. The site that was chosen as the home for the new gallery was the disused, imposing Bankside Power Station. An original and unconventional site for a gallery, don't you think? Designed after World War II by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who also created the classic red telephone box), the building was successfully transformed and converted by Swiss Herzog & de Meuron. This partnership oversaw again an extension project years later, consisting of the opening of the Tanks in 2012 and the creation of the Blavatnik Building (formerly known as the Switch House) in 2016.

Planning your visit

Despite the fact that it is one of the top three tourist attractions in the UK, there is no bad time to visit Tate Modern. However, if you want to admire the collections without hustle and bustle, don't bother going there on Saturdays or on Bank holidays, in order to have the best experience.

How to get there?

Find here the best way to reach Tate Modern, located at the following address: Bankside, SE1 9TG. It is extremely easy to get there.

The best way to travel in London is by using a contactless or an Oyster card. Oyster, which can be bought online or from a ticket machine at any Underground station, permits you to get on the Underground, DLR, Overground, some riverboats and the iconic red London buses.

· By tube:

The common way to get to the museum is by tube. Therefore, have a look at the tube map and hop on the London Underground, getting yourself to Southwark, a station served by the grey Jubilee line. Once you have passed through the ticket turnstile, follow the signs telling you exactly which direction to take and you'll find yourself on Blackfriars Road. Now walk in Blackfriars Road for a few minutes until you have reached the riverside. Turn right and keep walking for four-five minutes until you will see the imposing Tate at your right. You can also use Blackfriars, St Paul's and London Bridge stations to reach it.

· By bus:

If you are comfortable with the use of London buses, you can reach easily the proximity to Tate Modern via routes 45, 63 and 100 (which stop on Blackfriars Bridge Road), 381 (which stops on Southwark Street) and 344 (which stops on Southwark Bridge Road).

· By bike:

If you prefer to enjoy the weather, rent a bike at Cycle Hire Docking Stations, which are located on New Globe Street and Southwark Street.

· By train:

If you prefer to reach the museum by train instead, you will not find it difficult. The nearest station is Blackfriars railway station, which is a three-minute walk away from the South exit and five minutes from the North one.

· By boat:

You can also catch riverboat services to Bankside Pier, which is just outside Tate Modern.

· By car:

Reaching Tate Modern by car is very complicated; with streets lined, parking meters and residents' parking bays, car parking close to the Tate can be challenging. However, there is a car parking, London Vintry Thames Exchange, which is 15 minutes' walk away.

Entering Tate Modern

Did you know that Tate Modern has several entrances? The main one may be the Turbine Hall entrance (on Holland Street), which has a ramp to Level 0 of the gallery. The other two main ways to enter the museum are by the River Entrance (on Queen's Walks) which has lift access to all floors in the Boiler House and Level 1, as well as an entry for wheelchairs, prams and buggies, and by the Switch House entrance (on Sumner Street). Remember that the Tate Modern building is divided into two sections: the Nathalie Bell Building and the Blavatnik Building that are connected on Level 0 through the Turbine Hall, the bridges on levels 1 and 4.

Opening and closing times

You can visit the collections of Tate Modern every day from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. However, if you are interested in having a different visit, head to Tate on Friday and Saturday nights when it is open until 10 p.m. You will find it closed only 24th, 25th and 26th December, but on 1st January will be open as usual on all other days of the year.

Admission fees

Tate Modern will not cost you a penny to enter. This means that you can visit its permanent collections whenever you prefer and can drop in for just having a quick look at your favourite piece. However, we cannot say the same for special and fancy exhibitions that normally need to be booked in advance. Tickets may cost up to £22, but some discounts are available. If you are a student, a job seeker, a disabled person, you will pay around £20. Under 12s go free (up to 4 per family adult), and children that are over 12 but under 18 will pay £5 if accompanied by an adult.


Tate Modern aims to provide a range of accessible facilities to help you enjoy the visit entirely. It offers enlarged print gallery plans, large print guides for blind or partially impaired visitors and BSL talks to discover works on display in the permanent collection and the special exhibitions for deaf or hearing-impaired visitors. They are also available free blind touch tours, consisting of some two-three dimensional works that can be explored by touch and by other factors, and audio-described tours that explore works on display in the collections and exhibitions. If you are interested in, you need to book them in advance. If needed, it is possible to borrow wheelchairs and mobility scooters, but please book in advance giving at least 24hours notice. In addition, another good news is that guide dogs, hearing dogs and assistance dogs are welcome in the gallery. You just need to advise a member of staff.

Exploring the Collection

To explore modern and contemporary art may be complicated for first-visitors or for who is unfamiliar with Tate's collection and with this type of arts. But don't worry, we'll guide you through. It is important to say that Tate Modern regularly hosts record-breaking exhibitions that attract many people to the South Bank. However, its ever-changing free display of modern masterpieces remain the main attraction. Some of the top artworks to discover include the colourful The Snail by Henri Matisse, the unmissable Black on Maroon by Mark Rothko, the magnetic Babel by Cildo Meireles, the famous Fountainby Marcel Duchamp, The End of the Twentieth Century by Joseph Beuys, the impressive Untitled (Ghardaïa) by Kader Attia, the darkest black of all times featuring Ishi's Light by Anish Kapoor, one of Pablo Picasso's Bust of a Woman, SalvadorDalì's fascinating Lobster Telephone is a great work to enlight your social media feed, and last but not least Claude Monet's Water-Lilies should not be missed! Unfortunately, if you are looking to see the moving Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso and the disorienting To a Summer's Day 2 by Bridget Riley they are not on display at the moment but you can listen to their stories on Aura app.

The recommended visiting time is around three hours, but you may need more time for discovering the collections in their entirety. However, if you have a short time and you don't want to miss any fundamental artwork to understand the popularity of the museum, have a look at our tours. Tate Modern: Express Tour consists of a selection of masterpieces chosen for all of the visitors that can spend a limited time at the museum, If you have only one hour is thought to offer a general idea of the collections and Tate Modern: The Ultimate Tour is designed to guide you through all the major unmissable masterpieces of the museum.

If you have an interest in discovering the highlights of the collections by any theme, see and listen to our helpful themed routes, such as Women Artists, Sculptures, Installations, Visual Art, Consumerism,Activist Art and Conceptual Art.


Tate Modern is divided into 10 Collections or expository spaces - Turbine Hall, The Tanks, Start Display, In the Studio, Artist and Society, Media Networks, Materials and Objects, Performer and Participant, Living Cities and Artists Rooms. If you see our app, you can find a tour that will give you a hint of what each space aim to do, that is Collection Introduction. In contrast to most of galleries and museums, all of the pieces of art are arranged in these collections by topic, and not by chronology. Surprisingly, the themes regularly change and, consequently, even the artworks change too.

Aura's special tips

· Take a moment to admire the building from the Millennium Bridge.

· Don't miss breath-taking city views from the 10th-floor Viewing Level of the Blavatnik Building and the view of the river Thames and St Paul's Cathedral from the 6th-floor café in the Natalie Bell Building.

· For reasons of safety and security, large bags, sports equipment and wheelie bags are not permitted into the gallery. Foldable bicycles, skateboards and child or adult scooters are allowed into the building but must be left in the cloakroom if you desire to visit the collections.

· Are there any activities for kids? Definitely. The museum offers many activities, games and events to explore the collections and inspire children. The most interesting one is the activity of sketching at the Bloomberg digital drawing bar. Kids can draw and see what their designs look like on the walls.

· Take a lovely break at the in-house restaurant, located on Level 9 of the Blavatnik Building. It serves fantastic Modern European food, with international influences, while it enchants you with a wonderful view of the city.

· National Art Pass is a great and clever way for Londoners to save money and experience the new exhibitions. You can visit over 240 museums, galleries and historic places for free and 50% off entry to several exhibitions, including British Museum. It only costs£73 for 12-month membership and£45 if you are under 30. For further information, visit the website:https://www.artfund.org/national-art-pass.

Floor Plan

Check the Map of the Museum on our App.

The extras

After your visit to the museum, you cannot fail to reserve a few minutes to cross and admire Millennium Bridge, a result of creative collaboration between architecture, art and engineering. Keep walking, and you will find yourself in front of the majestic St Paul's Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of London where Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married. An 8 minutes' walk from the museum is the Southbank Centre, a world-famous arts centre where people can experience exciting class art with artists from across the globe. Only 2 minutes' walk from Tate is Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the world-renowned open-air theatre associated with Shakespeare, built on the bank of the River Thames. Tate is also very close to the famous Borough Market, one of the largest food markets in London that is open from Monday to Saturday. Here you might try delicious fresh pasta at La Tua Pasta, a lovely authentic Italian shop that serves its creations with great passion.

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Make the most of your museum visiting experience.

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