One of London's most amazing attractions, this outstanding modern- and contemporary-art gallery is housed in the creatively revamped Bankside Power Station south of the Millennium Bridge. A spellbinding synthesis of modern art and capacious industrial brick design, Tate Modern has been extraordinarily successful in bringing challenging work to the masses, both through its free permanent collection and fee-paying big-name temporary exhibitions. The stunning Switch House extension opened in 2016, increasing the available exhibition space by 60%.
The 4.2 million bricks of the 200m-long former power house (now called Boiler House) is an imposing sight, designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron, who scooped the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2001 for their transformation of the empty power station. Significant achievements include leaving the building's central 99m-high chimney, adding a two-storey glass box onto the roof and employing the cavernous Turbine Hall as a dramatic entrance space. Herzog and de Meuron also designed the new 10-storey extension.
As a supreme collection of modern art, the contents of the museum are, nevertheless, the main draw. At their disposal the Tate Modern curators have works by Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, as well as pieces by Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst, Claes Oldenburg and Auguste Rodin.
Tate Modern's permanent collection is arranged by both theme and chronology on levels 2 and 4 of Boiler House and levels 0, 2, 3 and 4 of Switch House. The emphasis in the latter is on art from the 1960s onwards. More than 60,000 works are on constant rotation, so if there's a particular work you would like to see, check the website to see if (and where) it's hanging.
The museum's location is also supreme, made the most of by popular balconies on level 3 of Boiler House and the level 10 viewing gallery in Switch House. The magnificent view is elegantly conveyed by the Millennium Bridge directly to St Paul's Cathedral in the City on the far bank of the river.
Free guided highlights tours depart at 11am, noon, 2pm and 3pm daily. Audio guides (in five languages) are available for £4; these contain information about 50 artworks across the gallery and offer suggested tours for adults or children.