Yet, as the Tate Modern celebrates it 10th birthday on May 13, it's become anything but unfashionable. The building, home to England's most important collection of modern and contemporary art, is one of London's most sought out attractions. It's helped transform a previously underdeveloped area of London and also given the city a new image as a leader in contemporary culture.
The Tate Modern's galleries are located inside what used to be the Bankside Power Station, originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, which closed in 1981. When it reopened in 2000, instead of displaying its collections in chronological order, the Tate Modern decided upon themes: Material Gestures, Poetry and Dream, Energy and Process, and States and Flux. Displaying art since 1900, it's an inviting place to see modern and contemporary works of Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Lichtenstein and Warhol.
In September, the Tate Modern hosts the first important Gaugin exhibition in Britain in 50 years featuring paintings and drawings from around the world by the master French Post-Impressionist.
During two visits to London, in 2005 and 2007, the Tate Modern was on my "Do List" of places to see ~ and Time Out London readers have nominated the Tate Modern as their favorite London landmark.
The Tate Modern's popularity with both tourists and locals is evident. Forty-five million visitors have ventured through its cavernous entrance since its debut only to be confronted by what The Guardian calls "the strange wonder" of Turbine Hall, "in which, in the annual Unilever Series of installations, they have been whispered to and disoriented, sun-worshiped and helter-skeltered."
I encourage you to explore the Tate Modern both in daytime and at night and to experience how the effect of outside light changes the personality of Turbine Hall inside. No doubt, you'll also enjoy the stunning panoramic view of the city walking along Millennium Bridge, which connects the Tate Modern facing to the south with historic St. Paul's Cathedral facing in the north.
Entry to the Tate Modern is free except for major exhibitions ~ it offers many activities for families with children ~ and it's an especially great place to hang after dark on Friday and Saturday evenings when it has extended hours until 10 p.m. The nearest Underground station is Southwerk (Jubilee Line), about a 600-meter walk from the museum, while the nearest mainline train station is about 800 meters away at Blackfriars. The museum can also be reached from several bus lines.