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Tate Modern in 30 Minutes

Home > London > Art | Free | Indoor | Museums | Places of Interest
by Maria K (subscribe)
Postgraduate student based in London.
Published February 4th 2017
Better late than never
Imagine that you ended up having only 30 minutes to see Tate Modern, one of the biggest museums in London. Maybe you spent too much time in the traffic, took too long a walk on the Southbank, or simply decided to spend half an hour of your lunch break contemplating great paintings – the result is the same, you only have 30 minutes. So how do you find your way in this huge space and manage to see the right things?

tate modern pop myths
Pop Myths installation view at Tate Modern. Photo credits: Tate Photography. Source:https://www.artfund.org/what-to-see/museums-and-galleries/tate-modern Photography


Here are a few tips.

1. Try to end up at the right entrance

This might save you at least 1/5 of the short amount of time you have. River entrance is your top pick – this way you end up on the 1st floor of the Boiler House and can take an escalator straight up to the main collection on the 2nd floor. Turbine Hall entrance will lead you to the large empty space to cross, which is an irrational move time-economy-wise.

Turbine Hall
Turbine Hall


2. Go to the FREE collections

You're in – what's next? Seems like a no-brainer, but is definitely worth mentioning. Free collections save you time on the tedious ticket purchase process with slowly-moving queues and multiple questions about your discount status and exhibition preferences at the cash desk.

If you managed to end up on the 2nd floor in Boiler House, having entered through the River House door, you still should have around 25 minutes left. Go to the 'The Studio', to the rooms 7, 8 and 9 to see the best work of expressionist art. Room 8 features large paintings of Mark Rothko, that are absolutely worth seeing. The next room showcases the colour insanity of Gerard Richter. His works are truly hypnotising, so make sure you don't lose yourself in them.

tate modern
Piet Mondrian, Tate Modern


Moving on. Leave the 'Studio' part and go across the hall to the 'Artist and Society', where you can discover the works of the most influential painters of the 20th century. If you need to see at least something, you won't miss out going there. In rooms 2 (Abstraction and Society) and 3 (Civil War), you will find Picasso, Mondrian, Siqueiros and other great artists, all united under common topics. If you feel you still have time, go ahead and sneak into Room 10 (Citizens) dedicated to the issues of civil rights across the world. This room would be a surprising contrast to what you have seen in the previous two, being blunt, precise and highly relevant.

3. See something new

You have some time left – go to the 4th floor to see the new acquisitions of the museum to keep yourself updated on the recent events of the art world. The room is located in the central part of the floor, where the newest artworks in the collection are displayed. Today, this section includes works by Kelley Walker, Louise Lawler and Richard Tuttle.

Richard Tuttle, System IV, White Traffic, 2011. Source www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/display/recent-acquisitions


4. Grab a coffee to go

Go back to the 3rd floor. Indeed, there are mostly temporary exhibitions you have to pay for, but there is something else worth seeing. At the Tate café, you can get a coffee and a snack, but the best part is – you can go to the terrace, which overlooks St Paul's Cathedral across the river, and see what's happening down on the ground. This is one of the most beautiful views of the Thames, and a piece of art in itself.

tate modern
View from the cafe on the 3rd floor


Now that the 30 minutes are over, you can leave satisfied with your (rather rushed) visit to the key art establishment of the city.

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Why? A speedy itinerary for Tate Modern visit
When: Sunday to Thursday 10.00-18.00, Friday to Saturday 10.00-22.00
Where: Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Nice article and interesting work there :)
by RC (score: 3|1215) 192 days ago
I like how you've described this place within 30 mins, really help you understand what to prioritise when you're in there
by Nathan Howard (score: 0|4) 57 days ago
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