Tate Modern ★★☆
Fantastic modern art museum in a massive former power plant, with blockbuster exhibitions and a fab gift shop and bookstore
If you're into contemporary art, this place rocks.
The Tate’s famed international modern art collection occupies a huge renovated former power station on Bankside, just across the pedestrian Millennium Bridge from The City and St. Paul’s.
The collection includes art from the Impressionists to today—from Rodin’s The Kiss and dozens of pieces by Picasso, Matisse, and van Gogh to Dalí, Giacometti, and Modigliani, and later works by Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns, Henry Moore, Julian Schnabel, Frank Stella, Anselm Keifer, and a host of other contemporary-era artists.
It also puts on showstopping major special exhibits of the sort the entire global art world talks about.
My father was an artist, so I run into this lot plenty, and I have honestly overheard the following conversation:
"I'm headed to London next week."
"Oh yes, why?"
"To see that exhibition at the Tate."
That was it. The entire purpose of a transatlantic trip was just to go to a temporary show at this one museum.
(Awesome gift store, too.)Tours
Depending on what kind of exhibits are on, figure on at least an hour in the main collection (more if you're a modern art fan), maybe another 30–45 minutes for special exhibits.
I have actually come here and spent more than three hours simply at a special exhibit, never even getting to the main part of the collection.
Also figure on spending at least 20–30 minutes (and probably a lot more money than you expected) in the awesome book store and gift shop.
Though admission is already free, don't forget to use your London Pass to get a free audio guide (normally £4.50).