Turner Contemporary

Free

JMW Turner, one of Britain’s most celebrated artists, had an enduring connection with Margate. Captivated by the ethereal quality of light along the Kentish coast, Turner frequently visited this picturesque town to harness the play of sunlight and sea. He was enamoured by Margate’s dramatic skies and seascapes, which became a prominent theme in his later works.

Turner’s affiliation with Margate has left an indelible mark on the town’s cultural identity, inspiring the creation of the Turner Contemporary museum that honours his legacy and continues to draw art enthusiasts and admirers from around the world.

The Turner Contemporary was built on the site of the guesthouse that was frequented by JMW Turner and it is the first contemporary building to feature on a UK banknote. (Photo: Carlos Dominguez/Turner Contemporary)
The Turner Contemporary was built on the site of the guesthouse that was frequented by JMW Turner and it is the first contemporary building to feature on a UK banknote. (Photo: Carlos Dominguez/Turner Contemporary)

What to see at the Turner Contemporary

The Turner Contemporary museum in Margate offers a rich tapestry of contemporary artworks that span a wide range of media and styles. Beyond the exhibitions, the museum’s panoramic sea views pay homage to JMW Turner’s fascination with Margate’s coastal beauty.

Temporary exhibitions at the Turner Contemporary

Apart from one solitary painting, Michael Craig Martin’s Turning Pages 2011, the Turner Contemporary does not have a permanent collection of its own, and instead its focus is on a programme of temporary exhibitions, all with a focus on contemporary art.

Current and planned exhibitions include:

Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950–1970
Beyond Form: Lines of Abstraction, 1950–1970 is a group exhibition (until 6 May 2024) exploring abstraction as a global language shared by women artists in the two decades following the Second World War. The exhibition features over 50 artists and 80 artworks, with a focus on sculptures and it examines how women artists, including Mária Bartuszová, Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and others, have used abstract forms to challenge artistic norms amid cultural, social and political shifts. The exhibition spans a range of media, from Marisa Merz’s Living Sculpture to Carla Accardi and Marta Pan’s innovative use of modern materials, offering a diverse perspective on this period in art.

Lynda Benglis: Recent Sculptures
This exhibition (until 15 September 2024) in the Turner Contemporary’s Sunley Gallery showcases three recent sculptures by Lynda Benglis. Born in 1941, Benglis is recognised for her unconventional approach within the art world, notably pioneering the use of wax and poured latex. Her recent polished bronze sculptures feature dynamic and fluid forms, challenging perceptions of space.

Antony Gormley: Another Time
Antony Gormley’s Another Time (until 1 November 2030) is a sculpture installed on Fulsam Rock near the gallery that is part of a series of 100 cast-iron figures. The figure is positioned in such a way that it is only fully visible at low tide, which gives the work a sense of timelessness and impermanence.

Another Time is a sculpture by Antony Gormley that is positioned in such a way that it is only fully visible at low tide. (Photo: Thierry Bal/Turner Contemporary)
Another Time is a sculpture by Antony Gormley that is positioned in such a way that it is only fully visible at low tide. (Photo: Thierry Bal/Turner Contemporary)

Visiting the Turner Contemporary

The Turner Contemporary is located at the northern end of Margate Beach and most points of interest in Margate are no more than a 10-minute walk from here.

The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday and admission is free of charge.

Visitor facilities include a gift shop and cafe and its location near the town centre means that there are plenty of other places to eat and drink nearby.

The cafe at the Turner Contemporary. (Photo: Visit Thanet)
The cafe at the Turner Contemporary. (Photo: Visit Thanet)

The Turner Contemporary is fully wheelchair accessible.

Allow 1–2 hours for your visit.

Amenities
  • Cafe/restaurant
  • Gift shop

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