You may not realise that the Tate is actually four separate venues – two in London, one in Liverpool and one down on the Cornish coast. Here’s our guide to all things Tate.
Tate Britain is the home of British art from 1500 to the present day. Situated on the Thames at Millbank, the gallery was built in 1892 on the site of a former prison. Industrialist, Henry Tate, had made his fortune as a sugar refiner and wanted to give his collection of British art to the nation. There was no room at the National Gallery so a new space had to be created. Designed by Sidney RJ Smith, it has a grand entrance with soaring pillars and a central dome which resembles a temple. Over the years it has been extended many times and contains one of the most comprehensive collections of artwork anywhere in the world. Notable collections include JMW Turner, Moore sculptures and William Blake.
Borrow our Touch to See book Tate Britain to explore the facade, a floor plan of the gallery and a selection of his works ranging from Hogarth to Hockney.
Tate Britain is very accessible and welcomes guide dogs. They also do a handy online resource for visually impaired people called i-Map creative which uses text, audio, image enhancement and deconstruction, animation and raised images to examine works of art from the collection.
A high speed boat ride down the Thames from the pier outside Tate Britain takes you to the spectacular Tate Modern.
In the 1990s a former power station was chosen as the site of a new Tate gallery to showcase international modern and contemporary art. This iconic London landmark was originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and the architects chosen to build Tate Modern retained the uncompromising, industrial character and beauty of the building. It now has a dramatic entrance made from the stunning 35 metre high Turbine Hall where large-scale artworks are displayed.
Millions of people visit Tate Modern every year and it’s one of the UK’s best-loved tourist attractions. To get a taster before visiting the gallery borrow our Touch to See book Tate Modern. Again we include a raised image of the floor plan and features, along with work by top names in the world of modern art such as Kandinsky, Magritte, Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, and the famous self portrait by Andy Warhol.
Tate Modern has a hands on approach to contemporary art and encourages blind and partially sighted visitors to engage with their collection through free Touch Tours. The tours engage with the ideas, materials and techniques of modern and contemporary art so they are really worth going on.
If you live in the north of England then make time to visit Tate Liverpool. It was created in the 1980s and was designed to have a distinct identity and showcase modern art whilst encouraging a new, younger audience through an active education programme. A warehouse on Albert Dock was chosen and the interior was stripped back into plain, elegant gallery spaces which perfectly showcase modern art. The gallery doesn’t have its own permanent collection but builds exhibitions using the vast resources of the Tate. Recent shows have included the work of Klimt and Magritte.
If you’re in the south west of England then take time to seek out Tate St Ives. St Ives is a small Cornish town which has a long association with the artistic community. The special quality of light on this stretch of coast attracted artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Mark Rothko and Alfred Wallis. In 1980 Tate took over the management of the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden and later decided that a gallery should be built to show work by artists associated with the area taken from Tate’s collection. An elegant white building was designed with a central rotunda which looks out over the stunning coastline. This vibrant exhibition space is the perfect place to explore modern art and hosts a full programme of talks and tours. The Sculpture Garden is particularly lovely to explore.
Works by Hepworth and Nicholson can be explored in the Touch to See Tate books mentioned above.
If you can’t make it to any of these galleries then do explore the Tate website. They have really embraced technology to give you the chance to explore their resources via tablets and smartphones. Check out their app section for details. They also have a YouTube channel full of informative videos called TateShots.
All images are taken from Tate website.