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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

The London Logs: The Disappointing Tate Modern

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | August 25th, 2012 | Comments No Comments

On this blustery day, I ventured to the Tate Modern art museum ( It was muggy and sunny when I left my Leytonstone flat, but clouds were rolling in fast. I grabbed my bolly* (**) and set off.tate-modern.jpg

(*I can’t believe it either that I’m using the British euphemism for umbrella! Photo taken on a sunnier day.)

(** Yikes! I’ve just been corrected: It’s brolly. One would think I’d have learned English by now!)

By the time I hit the River Thames, it was drizzling. By the time I hit the middle of the Millennium Bridge with no turning back, the downpour had soaked my jeans up to my own little personal brolly. Wet thighs chafing, I sauntered into the Tate like a girl just dismounted from a weeklong trail ride.

Surprisingly, there were one or two other Londoners who had the same plan for whiling away a rainy Saturday. The museum is a former warehouse — drafty, grey, bleak — matched the weather. There is a lot of wasted space; the main “hall” is a cavernous cement empty space. The line for tickets to get into the Edvard Munch exhibit stretched along the wall and were a daunting £14 (about $22). Dispirited, chilled and wet, I hit every ladies’ WC to wave my shoes and damp toes under the electronic hand heaters.

I visited only 10 rooms of the permanent collection. Great art, but very crowded, claustrophobic exhibits. Paintings were tight at eye level and stacked neck-craning above. It was tough to match the explanatory placards with each painting. It was just so uncomfortable maneuvering the crowds and trying to experience the art.

I bailed and went for dinner, figuring I’d return later when the weather and crowds cleared. Never made it. Instead, I spent a leisurely dinner at Founders Arms having a mediocre meal of sea bass (what is the appeal in the overly fried pub grub?) with a glass of warming merlot and a dramatic view of the moody storm and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Got some good editing on my chapter done.

Eventually, I will make it back to Tate Modern. But, this was my most disappointing experience.
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Category: London
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