About

About

About the Serpentine Galleries

Championing new ideas in contemporary art since it opened in 1970, the Serpentine has presented pioneering exhibitions of 2,263 artists over 45 years, showing a wide range of work from emerging practitioners to the most internationally recognised artists and architects of our time. Read more

Today, the Serpentine is two exhibition spaces situated on either side of The Serpentine lake in London’s Kensington Gardens: the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm, the Galleries offer free admission throughout the year.

In addition to a seasonal exhibitions programme of eight shows per year, the Serpentine presents its annual Serpentine Pavilion during the summer months, the first and most ambitious architecture programme of its kind in the world. These programmes are complemented by a series of outdoor sculpture projects, special artist commissions, digital commissions, public and educational programmes, and major outreach projects including the renowned Edgware Road Project.

The Serpentine offers innovative ways for all ages to engage with modern and contemporary art, architecture and design through its exhibitions, projects, education and public programmes. Only 15% of the Galleries’ annual funding comes from government sources, with the remaining 85% raised privately through donations, corporate sponsorships, trusts, foundations, individuals and other activities, including Gallery and restaurant hire.

Audio Walks

The Bridge Commission is an audio series launched to coincide with the opening of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. It explores the route between the two Galleries with a series of texts by internationally acclaimed writers. Each story is timed to last as long as it takes to walk from the Serpentine Gallery to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.

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History of the Serpentine Gallery

The Serpentine Gallery, a Grade II listed former tea pavilion was opened by the Arts Council of England on 1 May 1970. The Gallery was originally conceived as a place to show the work of emerging artists, particularly from the UK and its regions. Read more

Over 44 years it has gained an international reputation for excellence, working with a diverse range of artists, architects and designers. The Gallery underwent a major renovation in 1998 under the Patronage of Diana Princess of Wales. In 2000 the world renowned annual architectural commission was established on the Gallery’s lawn, and is now an established international site for architectural experimentation.  The Serpentine conceives and presents its programmes across both the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in four seasons per year.

Ian Hamilton Finlay at the Serpentine

On the grounds of the Gallery is a permanent commission by the Scottish poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. The work comprises eight benches, a tree-plaque, and a large, complex inscription at the Gallery’s entrance. Each element of the work is inscribed with pastoral poetry. The paved slate entrance circle contains the names of trees found in Kensington Gardens and a quotation by the philosopher Francis Hutcheson, 1725. At the centre is a dedication to Diana, Princess of Wales, who was the Serpentine Gallery’s Patron from 1993 to 1996. 

 

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History of The Serpentine Sackler Gallery and The Magazine

The Serpentine Sackler Gallery, designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate Zaha Hadid, opened to the public in September 2013. Situated a five minute walk from the original Serpentine Gallery, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery has brought this 1805 Grade II listed former gunpowder store into public use for the first time in its 208 year history. Read more

The restoration and extension of this building created expanded galleries and social space as well as the new permanent restaurant, The Magazine, run by K&K Limited London. The Serpentine conceives and presents its programmes across both the Serpentine Gallery and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in four seasons per year. The Serpentine Sackler Gallery is named after Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler, whose Foundation made the gallery possible.

The Magazine

The Magazine, built in 1805, was designed as a munitions store for the safe-keeping of gunpowder during the Napoleonic wars. Since then it has been at the turning point of over two hundred years of London’s history: the city’s recreation grounds and royal gardens, a landscape for military parades, home to the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851, site for patriotic celebration as well as revolutionary anger. Improved by Decimus Burton in the 1820s, the building stands in front of the Serpentine Bridge, designed by John Rennie and completed between 1825-28.

In 2010 the Serpentine Gallery won the tender from The Royal Parks to bring the Grade II* listed Magazine building into public use for the first time in its 208-year history. The Serpentine Gallery has restored the building to an excellent standard, in partnership with The Royal Parks, renovating and extending it to designs by Zaha Hadid Architects. A light and transparent extension complements the neo-classical architecture of the original building. It is Zaha Hadid Architects’ first permanent structure in central London and continues a relationship which began with the inaugural Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Commission in 2000.

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History of the Pavilion

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commission is an ongoing programme of temporary structures by internationally acclaimed architects and designers. Read more

The series is unique worldwide and 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. The Pavilion commission, conceived in 2000 by Gallery Director Julia Peyton-Jones, has made the Serpentine an international site for architectural experimentation. Each Pavilion is completed within six months and is situated on the Gallery’s lawn for three months for the public to explore and enjoy.

Explore The Serpentine Pavilions

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Aerial view of the Serpentine - about page

Aerial view of the Serpentine - about page

2015
Serpentine Galleries aerial view
Aerial view of the Serpentine Gallery - about page

Aerial view of the Serpentine Gallery - about page

2015
Serpentine Gallery aerial view
Ian Hamilton Finlay commission - about page

Ian Hamilton Finlay commission - about page

2015
Ian Hamilton Finlay permanent commission, Serpentine Gallery
Bertrand Lavier Fountain - about page

Bertrand Lavier Fountain - about page

2015
Serpentine Sackler Gallery and Bertrand Lavier: Fountain
Serpentine Sackler Gallery - about page

Serpentine Sackler Gallery - about page

2015
Serpentine Sackler Gallery and The Magazine restaurant
Serpentine Sackler Gallery at night

Serpentine Sackler Gallery at night

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 designed by Sou Fujimoto

2013
Serpentine Gallery, London (8 June – 20 October 2013)
Serpentine Galleries Pavilion 2014 designed by Smiljan Radić - press page

Serpentine Galleries Pavilion 2014 designed by Smiljan Radić - press page

2014
6. Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2014 Designed by Smiljan Radić Photograph © 2014 John Offenbach