The Tate Gallery in London, also known as the 'Tate Britain' is an absolute must when it comes to visiting London galleries. It originally opened in 1897, and was founded by Sir Henry Tate - an English sugar merchant who was a part of the Tate and Lyle sugar company. The Tate Gallery itself actually stands on what was once the site of Millbank Prison! But it is a beautiful building designed by architect Sidney RJ Smith and has no resemblance to the former prison.

The gallery has a wonderful collection of both historic and contemporary British art, from around 1500 to the present day. 'The Tate' can be regarded as the more classic counterpart to the 'Tate Modern', which is on the other side of the River Thames and which specialises in international modern art.

It is also the home to the famous Turner Prize - a yearly art prize which is given to up and coming new British artists. It has a bit of a reputation for creating controversy and pushing artistic boundaries to their limits. One well known example of past exhibits have included Damien Hirst's shark in formaldehyde, and Tracey Emin's 'My Bed', a replica of her own chaotic bed complete with empty vodka bottles! The prize features four unknown artists under the age of fifty. They are chosen by a jury with the names of nominees announced in May. The show of their pieces opens in September and the winner is announced in December. Information regarding this prize can be found on the Official Tate Gallery Turner Prize page.

The gallery's permanent collection enables the public to see whole exhibition rooms dedicated to one artist. For example, there is a whole room dedicated to the brilliant Tracey Emin's work and another entire room to work by the intriguing filmmaker, photographer and conceptual artist, Sam Taylor-Wood.

The gallery is well-known for its retrospectives sometimes offered as temporary exhibitions. Retrospectives in the past have included Juan Munoz and Lucian Freud.

The Permanent Exhibitions: The permanent exhibitions at the Tate Britain are completely free to visit. Amongst these collections, you will find artists such as Francis Bacon, Whistler, Hepworth, and David Hockney. You can walk around the rooms and find art split into different time periods - in one space you might be see historic art and in the next you could stumble upon contemporary work from Damien Hirst.

The Temporary Exhibitions: Please note that there are exhibitions that change on a regular basis, (see the official website for more details). Past exhibitions have included a wide spectrum of artwork from Watercolours to the Romantics to retrospectives on particular artists/artisans. It is worth visiting the Exhibitions page on the Official Tate Britain website.

The Tate Late: The gallery covers British art from 1500 to the present-day. However, in recent years they have focussed on a younger audience. For example there is a dedicated room in the gallery called 'Art Now', featuring up and coming new artists all year round. It also opens late on monthly Friday evenings with a night called Late at Tate Britain, where admission is half-price admission. There is also a bar and live music. More information can be found on the Official Tate Gallery Tate Late page).