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
Guy Bourdin: Image Maker
Provocative, surreal and instantly recognisable: the work of Guy Bourdin marks a high point in twentieth century fashion photography, turning editorial and advertising imagery into something rich and strange. Guy Bourdin: Image Maker is the UK’s largest...Until Sun March 15th 2015Read moreStrand London London WC2R 1LA
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 Fri March 6th 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 Wed March 11th 2015 - Fri April 10th 2015 FreeRead 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 March 13th 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
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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.