The original Somerset House was a Tudor palace commissioned by the Duke of Somerset. In 1775 it was demolished to make way for an entirely new building, effectively the first purpose-built office block in the world. Today it houses a formidable art gallery (the wonderful Courtauld), a beautiful fountain court, a terraced café and a classy restaurant. Having replaced the Hermitage Rooms and Gilbert Collection on the river side of the building in April 2008, the new Embankment Galleries explore connections between art, architecture and design with a series of temporary exhibitions; downstairs a ceremonial Thames barge illustrates the venue’s history. In summer, children never tire of running through the choreographed fountains. Family workshops take place at weekends and holidays, and in recent years Somerset House has hosted an outdoor film screen in summer and a wonderfully atmospheric ice-rink in winter.
|Venue name:||Somerset House||Contact:|
|Opening hours:||Daily 10am-6pm|
|Transport:||Tube: Charing Cross/Covent Garden|
Pick a dateto
Calling all pogonophiles, this exhibition of over 80 portraits by Mr Elbank is just for you. Here, all manner of facial tufts come under the spotlight from John Hurt's wiry fisherman’s whiskers to Harnaam Kaur’s unexpected beard, which she’s been growing...Photography Sat March 28th 2015 - Sun March 29th 2015 FreeRead moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
The Syngenta Photography Award Exhibition
Aiming to stimulate global discussion through thought provoking photographic responses to worldwide issues, the second edition of this annual photography prize focuses on 'Scarcity-Waste'. Showcasing over 40 photographers including six of the professional...Photography Sat March 28th 2015 - Fri April 10th 2015 FreeRead moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Things to do
One of Vienna's major features is the ring road which surrounds is Inner Stadt district. To celebrate the 150th birthday of the Ringstrasse the Vienna Tourist Board are bringing a multimedia installation to Somerset House's courtyard. The ViennaSphere...Thu April 2nd 2015 - Sat April 4th 2015 FreeRead moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Things to do
Fire Tech Camp: Vinyl Selfies and 2D Prototypes: CANCELLED
This event has now been cancelled. Fire Tech Camp run courses focusing on equipping kids with the creativity, innovation and technological know-how to create their own games, design apps, code like pros, build robots and generally become wizards of the...Thu April 9th 2015 - Fri April 10th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Things to do
A Power Walk
From the monarchs to ministers, there's no doubting that London has long been in a fight for power, be that with the rest of the world or ourselves. This walk, led by Rosie Oliver from Dotmakers Tours, will take you on a mile and a half tour of the capital's...Fri April 17th 2015 - Fri June 12th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Pick Me Up
Celebrating graphic design in all its manifestations, the best artists, illustrators and designers will once again create engaging displays and interactive stands in the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House. For all the high-profile names involved,...Design Thu April 23rd 2015 - Mon May 4th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Sony World Photography Awards
The leading photography competition returns to Somerset House to showcase the winning and shortlisted images selected form a staggering 173,444 entries from 171 countries. Featuring work by professionals and amateurs in categories including travel, wildlife,...Photography Fri April 24th 2015 - Sun May 10th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Consummate and cheeky entertainers, Chromeo are a Canadian Arab/Jewish duo who deliver big ’n’ bassy, squelchy and irresistibly funky electropop – like a Hall & Oates for the Justice generation.Thu July 9th 2015 - Thu July 9th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Somerset House Summer Series
The gorgeous eighteenth-century courtyard of Somerset House hosts another of its annual summer gig series. With neoclassical beauty on all four sides it takes a special music line-up to live up to the setting, but luckily the Summer Series has got just...Pop Thu July 9th 2015 - Sun July 19th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
Gary Clark Jr
Supernaturally talented Texan rock guitarist Clark plays really sultry soul and dirty Deep South blues, and has jammed with stars from Stevie Ray Vaughan to Beyoncé and from Foo Fighters to Alicia Keys. He sells out headline shows every time he comes...Blues Fri July 10th 2015 - Fri July 10th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
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Review for Boro
From the 17th - 19th centuries, Japan’s poor were allowed only to wear dark blue, brown and grey. Brighter colours were reserved for the wealthy ruling elite, as were luxury fabrics, like cotton. When the rich threw away their clothes, poor people gathered together the scraps and stitched them together to make bedspreads. The result (Boro) is the subject of this exhibition.
If this sounds niche to the point of obscurity, you’d be right. The exhibition offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of one of the world’s most insular nations. However, from an artistic point of view, there is little to be gained. These are scraps of fabric, dyed blue and hastily quilted together to provide relief from Japan’s cold winter nights.
In an attempt to justify the exhibition, or possibly to break up the monotony, the curator has overindulged considerably with the interpretation. A whole panel is devoted to how modern artists, name-dropping eight of them, could have been influenced by Boro (‘Paul Klee would have been delighted by them’) before acknowledging this did not happen. It’s worth a quick look if you’re at Somerset House, but definitely not worth a special trip.
Saw the Sony World Photo Awards here which was fantastic. The permanent exhibition is worth a look as well.
One of London's most innovative museums, I love the amount of thought they put into offering as much diversity as possible. There really is something for everyone (and many exhibitions are free) but it's also a great place just to sit and people-watch.
Indeed Somerset house has more happening then most people visiting London would realise. It is a true hidden jem which is ironic because it is also one of the larger buildings that are open to the public. A beautiful historic hosting some very up today events. As well as the family workshops a number of events for adults have been run in the evening which have been very well recived. An evening of no presure creative play with a glass of wine in one hand accompanied by sounds from chilled DJ's is a very plesent way to pass the time.