|London has reinvented itself as the
most 'happening' city in Europe. The River Thames is
alive with sleek new pleasure-boats serving smart new piers;
and the South Bank in particular has developed itself
as a welcoming focus for sightseers, the 'millennium mile'.
The Official Internet Guide to London
|The Dome in Greenwich
and 'London Eye' observation wheel have become icons
recognised the world over; while cafés and brasseries
spill outdoors on to bright piazzas.The first new underground
line in 25 years, the £3.2 billion Jubilee, is fully operational.
Now it is the turn of the art and culture lover to be courted,
with a wide range of new and revitalised museums and galleries
opening. More than £400 million has been invested in these
is not just new galleries. The first bridge to be built across the
Thames for a century-the Millennium Bridge-provides an artistic
pedestrian route from the old to the new. It links St Pauls Cathedral
with Tate Modern, the country's most important new building
for the arts for decades. On the north bank of the river, the magnificent
courtyard of Somerset House-decorated with granite paving
and 55 dancing water jets-opens up to the public as a place for
meeting, entertainment and relaxation.
Opened in July 2001, the courtyard beside
Waterloo Bridge will host evening concerts and theatrical
events for up to 3,500 people, while a cafe and restaurant are part
of the River Terrace.
Also new at Somerset House are galleries
in the South Building for the Gilbert Collection of decorative
arts. This cornucopia of gold, silver and mosaic objects compliments
the Cortauld Institute's famed impressionist galleries. Somerset
House line-up is now enhanced further with the opening of a London
outpost for the State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg.
There are plans for a changing selection of exhibits from this world
class Russian collection.
at the river, a cathedral like power-station designed in the 1940's
by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (who has the red telephone box
as another claim to fame) has been tranformed into a new gallery
that will be an icon of 21st Century London. This is Tate Modern,
home to the Tate's collection of international 20th century art
including works by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Dali, Bacon
and Warhol. Next door and somewhat dwarfed by it's neighbour,
is the reconstruction of William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre,
housing a newly opened permanent exhibition about the playwright-"All
The World's a Stage"-the world's largest.
Busy Trafalgar Square is expected to be partly pedestrianised,
cutting much of the traffic and connecting the square, with its
fountains, Nelsons Column and statues, to the National
Gallery on its northern side. A few minutes away, the Royal
Academy of Arts on Piccadilly is holding its annual Summer
Exhibition which is the largest and oldest open contemporary art
exhibition in the world with around 1,000 works on show.
The exhibition brings together previously unseen paintings,
sculptures, drawings and models by many of Britain's most
distinguished artists and architects.
"Ingres to Matisse: Masterpieces
of French Painting
at the Royal Academy of Arts"
At last, but by no means least, the most popular of all museums,
the British Museum, has now opened a whole new space: its
hidden inner courtyard. The Great Court, as it is called, is the
space at the centre of the museum, formerly home to the British
Library, transformed into the largest covered square in Europe.
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