Tate Britain is the original Tate Gallery, which opened in 1897 on the site of the former Millbank Prison and it features an extensive collection of British art spanning from the 1500s to the present day.

What to see at Tate Britain

The art gallery houses a collection of British art dating from Tudor times to the present day. It is particularly noted for its large collection of works of Joseph Mallord William Turner, who bequeathed his personal collection to the gallery.

The gallery is organised chronologically with more prominent artists having a room to themselves and some artists have multiple rooms, such as Turner who has eight rooms in the Clore Gallery.

Most galleries are located on the main floor (ground level if you enter by the Millbank entrance). This includes rooms organised by era starting in 1540 and working up to the present day as well as rooms highlighting specific artists including Henry Moore, Bernard Cohen, Antony Gormley, Craigie Horsfield, Elizabeth Price and John Constable plus the Turner collections in the Clore Gallery.

The upper floor has two rooms dedicated to William Blake.

Highlights of the gallery include The Cholmondeley Ladies (circa 1600–1610); Giovanna Baccelli (1782) by Thomas Gainsborough; Millais Ophelia (1851–1852 by Sir John Everett; Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (1885–1886) by John Singer Sargent; Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (circa 1946) by Francis Bacon; No Woman, No Cry (1998) by Chris Ofili; Ghost of a Flea (1819–1820 by William Blake; The Opening of Waterloo Bridge (1832) by John Constable and Peace, Burial at Sea (1842), the Decline and Fall of the Carthaginian Empire (1817) and self portrait (1799) by JMW Turner.

The Cholmondeley Ladies (circa 1600–1610) in the Tate Britain
The Cholmondeley Ladies (circa 1600–1610) in the Tate Britain

Temporary exhibitions at the Tate Britain

Tate Britain also hosts a programme of temporary exhibitions. Temporary exhibitions include:

The Rossettis
The Rossettis exhibition (until 24 September 2023) explores the lives and work of Dante Gabriel, Christina, and Elizabeth (née Siddall) Rossetti, a family of artists and poets who were at the forefront of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. The exhibition features over 200 works of art, including paintings, drawings, and poetry, and offers a unique glimpse into the world of this extraordinary family. It is Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s largest exhibition in 20 years and the first time that all Elizabeth Siddal’s surviving works will be exhibited to the public. £22.

Art Now: Rhea Dillon: An Alterable Terrain
This exhibition (until 1 January 2024) features sculpture that examines the formation of British and Caribbean identities. Free.

Sarah Lucas
Sarah Lucas is a British artist known for her provocative and humorous use of everyday objects. This exhibition (28 September 2023–14 January 2024) presents a comprehensive overview of her work, from the early 1990s to the present day. It includes sculptures, installations, and photographs that explore themes of gender, sexuality and identity.

Women in Revolt!
The Women in Revolt! exhibition (8 November 2023–7 April 2024) features the work of two decades of over 100 female British artists. The exhibition showcases a wide variety of different media and styles with a central focus on highlighting social issues including the Aids pandemic, the peace movement, racism, and gender inequality.

Hope. Struggle. Change. Photographing Britain and the World 1945–79
This exhibition (dates to be announced) showcases documentary photography that depicts the evolution of Britain’s place in the world. £16.

Visiting Tate Britain

Tate Britain is located on Millbank on the River Thames across from Vauxhall. The closest tube stations are Pimlico and Vauxhall (both within a 10-minute walk) and Vauxhall and Victoria railway stations are also within walking distance.

It is around a 15-minute walk from the cluster of attractions around Westminster including Westminster Abbey, Jewel Tower, Churchill War Rooms, the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben).

There is a programme of free guided tours. These include tours focusing on various topics including the growth of British art, people and places of the 19th century and the paintings of JMW Turner.

The Djanogly Café and Rex Whistler Restaurant are located on the lower floor (ground level if you enter via the Manton entrance). The Djanogly Café is the more casual of the two with a nice selection of cakes, pastries, salads, pies and quiches and coffee that is roasted on-site whilst the Rex Whistler Restaurant, which features Rex Whistler’s mural The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats, is much fancier with table service and an extensive wine list.

Most visitors spend 1–2 hours exploring Tate Britain.

  • Wheelchair access
  • Free guided tours
  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Gift shop

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Plan your next trip to England with us

Planning a trip to England? englandrover.com is your independent source of travel information with information about how to get around, what to see and do and where to stay on your next trip to England.

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