The Tate Galleries
Sure the Olympics are based around sport, but the great thing about them is that they also highlight all the other amazing attributes of a city. If high diving or long jumping don’t turn out to be your cup of tea, why not get artistic at one of the Tate galleries?
London is lucky enough to have not one, but two fabulous Tates (there are also branches in Liverpool and St Ives), both situated on the mighty Thames. Tate Modern is on the South Bank at Bankside and Tate Britain is located on the North Bank at Millbank. I love them both (and the Tate-to-Tate boat that takes you along the Thames between them for a full-on day of art), but each has a different flavour. Britain is the home for British art from 1500 to the present day, whereas Modern houses international contemporary art. Both have major exhibions and retrospectives that draw big crowds.
And boy can they get crowded (especially as tourism reaches its all-time high), so it is pleasing that you can actually schedule a private viewing before they open to the general public. Meander and gander at the wondrous displays for an hour, just you and the gallery. Or, there are private tours to be had at any time with your own Tate guide. Add afternoon tea or a champagne meal in the Tate Restaurant to discuss the merits of the latest Hirst show.
Tate Modern also has plans afoot for expansion: a new building will be added to the existing iconic structure. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, it will double the exhibition and display size of the gallery, integrate spaces for learning and engaging with art, and create new social spaces. Three underground oil turbines, remaining from the old power station, form the foundation of the new building, and these oil tanks are to be the world’s first permanent museum galleries dedicated to live art. Who needs sports when you can be an art spectator?
Anton Lynch is bracing himself for the international invasion coming soon to his home country. In the meantime, he’ll be breaking down the best of London for all you Olympic-goers.