The Tate Britain gallery was built in 1892, on the site of a former prison the Millbank Penitentiary. The prison was used as the departure point for sending convicts to Australia, it was demolished in 1890. The statue of Britannia with a lion and a unicorn on top of the pediment at the Millbank entrance emphasises its function as a gallery of British art. The gallery opened its doors to the public in 1897, displaying 245 works in eight rooms from British artists dating back to 1790. In its first 15 years the Millbank site more than doubled in size, including the addition of seven rooms built to display the Turner Bequest. By 1917, it was made responsible for the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art. In 1932, the gallery officially adopted the name Tate Gallery. In 1937, the new Duveen Sculpture Galleries opened. These two 300 feet long barrel-vaulted galleries were the first public galleries in England designed specifically for the display of sculpture.
Open: 10 am –18 pm Closed 24–26 December.
Where is The Tate Britain? It is a 8 minute walk from Pimlico Station in zone 1. Pimlico serves the Victoria line.
What is nearby? Westminster Cathedral.
Did you know? Electric lighting had also been installed in all the rooms enabling the gallery to stay open until 5 pm whatever the weather. In 1955, Tate Gallery became independent from the National Gallery. In 1979, the gallery took over the adjacent disused military hospital, enabling the building of the new Clore Gallery. It opened in 1987 and went on to win a Royal Institute of British Architects award the following year.