26.03.2015
13:50

Barbican Art Gallery

Address:

Barbican Centre, Silk Street London EC2Y 8DS

Phone:

020-7638 8891

Website:

www.barbican.org.uk

Opening times:

Mon–Sat: 9:00–23:00, Sun: 10:00-23:00, Bank Holidays: 12:00–23:00

How to get there:

Tube: Barbican/Moorgate

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Additional information:

Restaurants and shops

The Barbican Centre is part of a vast residential, commercial and arts complex covering a 35-acre site, including within its boundaries the church of St Giles Cripplegate and medieval stretches of old City wall. It takes its name from an old fortification just outside the City limits, destroyed in the 13th century. The complex was conceived in the 1950s, an optimistic post-war era of social town planning, but building work—to the designs of Chamberlin, Powell & Bon—did not commence until 1963 and was completed only in 1982. As well as residential apartments, the Barbican was to incorporate a theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company, a concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra, and an art gallery. In addition, there are conference facilities, a studio theatre (The Pit), a public library and two cinemas.

The Barbican is a complicated and uncompromising building of pre-fabricated concrete on a monolithic scale, its various blocks surrounding a central lake with hanging plants and fountains, the whole connected by terraces and pedestrian walkways. Orientation is notoriously confusing. If approaching the complex from Moorgate, you should follow the yellow painted lines on the ground—a concept similar to using string in the Minotaur’s labyrinth. A more fool-proof route is to leave Barbican tube station, cross over Aldersgate and walk up the rather forbidding Beech Street. A right turn towards its end leads round to the Barbican Centre’s main Silk Street entrance. An architectural upgrading of the entrances and foyers is underway, the aim to improve navigation. A number of art works are on display in the public spaces, including Roubiliac’s bust of Shakespeare.

The Barbican Art Gallery, on level 3, is one of London’s major temporary exhibition venues. The space is spread over two floors, the upper overlooking the lower, sometimes filled with one exhibition but more usually two separate ones with a linked theme. The six to seven exhibitions a year concentrate mainly on 20th-century and contemporary art, design, photography and fashion. Changing displays (free) also take place in The Curve, on the ground floor.

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MUSEUMS & GALLERIES OF LONDON

Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

Emily Barber recommends five major London museums »

Please do share your comments and updates with us via the form below the entry for each museum.

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