Bankside is dominated nowadays by the awesome Tate Modern. Originally designed as an oil-fired power station by Giles Gilbert Scott, this austere, brick-built “cathedral of power” was converted into a splendid modern art gallery in 2000. The best way to enter is down the ramp from the west so that you get the full effect of the stupendously large turbine hall. It’s easy enough to find your way around the galleries, with levels 3 and 5 displaying the permanent collection, level 4 used for fee-paying special exhibitions, and level 7 home to a café with a great view over the Thames. Along with the free guided tours and multimedia guides, various apps are available (Tate has free wi-fi).
Works are grouped thematically. Although the displays change every year or so, you’re still pretty much guaranteed to see works by Monet and Bonnard, Cubist pioneers Picasso and Braque, Surrealists such as Dalí, abstract artists like Mondrian, Bridget Riley and Pollock, and Pop supremos Warhol and Lichtenstein. And such is the space here that several artists get whole rooms to themselves, among them Joseph Beuys, with his shamanistic wax and furs, and Mark Rothko, whose abstract “Seagram Murals”, originally destined for a posh restaurant in New York, have their own shrine-like room in the heart of the collection.