The Serpentine Galleries

The Serpentine Galleries are so named after the Lake which they are situated on. Artists who have exhibited here include Henry Moore, Andy Warhol, Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst!

The series presents the work of an international architect or design team who has not completed a building in England at the time of the Gallery’s invitation. Each Pavilion is completed within six months and is situated on the Gallery’s lawn for three months during summer for the public to explore. This idea was started in 2000, in order to celebrate the New Millennium and the galleries have adorned the gardens since. The objective of these showcases are to show that architecture can be made into a collectible artwork, and that it can work its magic independent of use or purpose. At the end of the Season, the Pavilions are sold to the highest bidder. There Pavilions are places where the public can relax and many lavish parties are held here during the summer months as well.

The Serpentine Galleries themselves are two contemporary art galleries in Kensington Gardens which comprise of the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. These galleries are within five minutes’ walk of each other and are linked by a bridge over the Serpentine Lake from which the galleries get their names. Their exhibitions, architecture, education and public programmes attract up to 1.2 million visitors a year with admission to both galleries being free.

The Serpentine Gallery was established in 1970 and is housed in a Grade II listed former tea pavilion built in 1933–34 by the architect J. Grey West. Notable artists whose works have been exhibited there include Man Ray, Henry Moore, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Paula Rego, Bridget Riley, Allan McCollum, Anish Kapoor, Christian Boltanski, Philippe Parreno, Richard Prince, Wolfgang Tillmans, Gerhard Richter, Gustav Metzger, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons and Marina Abramović. On the ground at the gallery’s entrance is a permanent work made by Ian Hamilton Finlay in collaboration with Peter Coates, and dedicated to Diana, Princess of Wales, the gallery’s former patron.

In 2013 the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, with an extension designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, was opened to the public, giving new life to The Magazine, a Grade II listed former gunpowder store built in 1805. The Gallery comprises 900 square metres of gallery space, restaurant, shop and social space.

The Gallery also hold various talks by artists themselves to inspire visitors to become artists themselves and take pride in offering a very hands on experience. Regular visits to the Gallery are arranged by school in the area and the galleries run various festivals as well.

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