It may not be as popular or as visited as its sister-museum Tate Modern, but if you're a lover of everything and anything related to British art, then London's Tate Britain certainly won't disappoint.

The gallery was founded in 1889 by the famed industrialist Henry Tate, who owned a massive collection of British art after making a fortune as a sugar refiner. Because there was no space to house his art in the National Gallery, he decided to open up a new art gallery focusing specifically on British art.

Originally, Tate Britain was meant to be one museum and was a single gallery consisting of merely 65 British paintings; however, due to popular demand, the venue was eventually expanded into four different sites in 2000 (Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Tate St. Ives and Tate Liverpool).

All of the pieces of artwork in Tate Britain are organized chronologically and feature everything from Pre-Raphaelites, 20th century art, pop art, sculptures, and even historic artifacts and live dancers.

Tate Britain, Clore Gallery. By Elliot Brown Tate Britain, artwork. By Kathryn Yengel
Tate Britain, artwork. Tate Britain, artwork. By Stu Smith Tate Britain, tourists. By Stu Smith

Tate Britain Highlights

A lot of art lovers in London flock to Tate Britain to see the J.M.W. Turner collection, which is the largest of its kind in the world. The collection is located in The Clore Gallery is comprised of 300 oil paintings, thousands of sketches and watercolours, 300 sketchbooks, and much, much more.

Other must-see galleries in the Tate Britain include The Archive Gallery (which houses over a million items), the Digital Archive Corridor (where visitors can “turn” pages of digitized sketchbooks, scrapbooks and albums), and The Duveen Galleries (focusing on sculpture displays).

If you have some time, then make sure you check out the Prints and Drawing Room (located on the upper floor of the Clore Gallery), which contains even more collections of artwork that aren't currently on display in the galleries.

Some of the many world-renowned artists you can expect to see during your Tate Britain visit include:

  • Damien Hirst
  • Francis Bacon
  • Walter Sickert
  • Paul Nash
  • David Hockney
  • Henry Moore
  • John Constable
  • Rachel Whiteread
  • George Stubbs
  • John Everett Millais
  • William Hogarth
  • L.S. Lowry
  • Barbara Hepworth
  • Lucian Freud
  • Stanley Spencer
  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler
  • Thomas Gainsborough
  • Graham Sutherland
  • Kenneth Clark

Special Tips

  • By becoming a Tate Britain member (for £70 a year) you will get free entry into all exhibitions as well as the Member Rooms, and even invites to private viewings and special events.
  • For the ultimate Tate experience, take the Tate Boat down the River Thames to the Tate Modern (boats usually run about every 40 minutes).
  • The food at the café can be quite expensive, so if you're on a budget, check out some of the many pubs in the vicinity if you want to have a quick bite to eat before or after your visit.