For an outstanding educational tour, there’s no need to venture far – London has seemingly endless possibilities for gaining new knowledge and developing critical skills, whatever the subject focus. When it comes to exploring art, the capital certainly has enough learning opportunities to fill up several years’ worth of trips – some of the world’s most acclaimed galleries rub shoulders with the barely-known studios of tomorrow’s art stars, while the richly textured variety of buildings and even the streets themselves are packed with interesting sights and inspiring ideas. For educators considering a trip to discover the artistic delights of London, read on for an introduction to what’s on offer.
The Tate Modern
For its sheer volume and variety of modern and contemporary art from Britain and around the world, the Tate Modern is an enduringly popular educational tour destination. Spanning the history of modern art, its collections allow visitors to trace the evolution of artistic movements, and broaden their understanding of art in context. As well as its permanent collections of everything from Surrealism to the Stuckists, the Turbine Hall displays temporary installations from some of the world’s most innovative artists, and school groups are in for even more inspiration with a comprehensive educational programme, the Tate sessions, where students will have the chance to engage creatively with the art on display, or even work with professional artists. Lessons in effective design can even be taken from the building, which has been cleverly redesigned since its days as the Bankside Power Station.
The Saatchi Gallery
The Saatchi Gallery may look much smaller than the Tate, but that shouldn’t be a reason for visitors to think of it as less important – in fact, it is one of the most influential galleries in the country. Founded in 1985 by art collector Charles Saatchi, it has been continually evolving ever since, with the collection changing to both reflect and influence significant artistic movements. The gallery also hosts a series of fascinating temporary exhibitions that offer visitors a glimpse into the ever-shifting landscape of the art world – recent ones have included an exhibition of images taken from Google Street View and a showcase of the most cutting-edge contemporary Korean artists. Learning about the gallery and its history on an educational tour will open up students’ understanding of how a top gallery functions, and could be especially inspiring for aspiring art historians or curators.
The London Eye
It may not be an art gallery, but the London Eye offers its passengers a unique view of London, and can make for a very memorable educational tour indeed. Students could try identifying landmarks from famous London paintings while riding this 135 metre high Ferris wheel, as well as responding artistically to the breathtaking panorama spread out below – this is a great opportunity to get out the sketchbooks or cameras.