Rather deceptively the British Museum houses art and artifacts from around the world, not British art as the name might suggest. For that you’d have to head to Tate Britain. The gallery, located in South London on the Thames at Millibank, is a part of the Tate network of galleries in England, including Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.
Tate Britain holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. A week or so before Christmas last year l ventured there with a friend to the newly refurbished museum to catch up.
If you go via Pimlico tube station you will come across the side entrance first. As I got closer to the building the first thing I noticed was the damage to the exterior. It wasn’t until later that I learned that it was bomb damage from World War II.
Once inside it was a pleasantly quiet atmosphere. We roamed from room to room and were able to pause and discuss the art without vying for a spot as is often the case in the British Museum. It is a victim of its popularity but still my favourite.
The main hall is impressive to say the least. A high ceiling open to all floors creates an airy atmosphere. The monochrome decor is stunning. The floor and mini spiral staircase leading to the basement where the cafe is located is an art piece itself.
I wasn’t sure if I’d like it here but I loved it so much I went about a month or so later with friends who had never been. There is a lot of work on display here by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and J.M.W. Turner.
With Moore’s pieces being so large the space accommodates and displays them well. Below is ‘Family Group’ by Moore.
While not a massive fan of Turner’s work I did see some pieces that I liked. Turner’s name is synonymous with the sea and landscapes but there were a set of his paintings that mainly featured people like this below. This made me think of Gustav Klimt’s piece the kiss.
I am mostly neutral about Hepworth’s work, it has a nice aesthetic and it is clear to see she her inspirations but I’m not that convinced of the greatness. She does remind me of Cornwall though and that is always a good thing. I did really like this piece below called Pelagos.
Pelagos (‘sea’ in Greek) was inspired by a view of the bay at St Ives in Cornwall, where two arms of land enfold the sea on either side. The hollowed-out wood has a spiral formation resembling a shell, a wave or the roll of a hill. Hepworth wanted the taut strings to express ‘the tension I felt between myself and the sea, the wind or the hills’
There is a huge variety of art here but it isn’t overwhelming. It is entirely possible to see most things in a visit or two. There is also a good mix of contemporary and older art. Few of the sculptures are behind glass enclosures and you can get up close and personal.
I’m not sure why it seems that many tourists don’t seem to come here but it is a branch of the Tates that should be visited. It isn’t far from Westminster Abbey and incredibly easy to find. The cafe is quite nice and great for a tea break or lunch. For me it is an ideal museum, great atmosphere and art without the crowds.
Admission is free except for special exhibitions. Opened from 10:00 – 18:00 daily. There are also lates here.
Closest Tube: Pimlico