Serpentine Galleries – All You Need to Know

The Serpentine Galleries are two separate galleries that can be found in central London. They have been displaying unique contemporary art since they opened in 1970. If you’re ever in London for a trip, the Serpentine Galleries are an excellent place for you to spend a couple of hours (or even a full day).

The galleries, Serpentine and Serpentine Sackler, are linked together by a bridge. This bridge allows you an accessible walkway over the Serpentine bridge, which is where the galleries fittingly get their name from. 

You’ll find both of the galleries full of art and culture, with exhibitions, public programs, and architecture for you to marvel at. Up to 1.2 million visitors are welcomed by the Serpentine Galleries every year, so what are you waiting for? 

Today we’ll be telling you everything you need to know about the Serpentine Galleries so that you’re prepared for your visit. 

The Marandi Foundation

The Marandi Foundation, which is co-chaired by Javad Marandi and Narmina Marandi, provides a majority of the funding to the Serpentine Galleries to ensure that admission remains free for the public. 

This generosity from the Marandi Foundation allows more people to visit and experience some of the most celebrated artists of the past and present. Javad and Narmina Marandi aim to help disadvantaged families and communities in the United Kingdom, as well as celebrating and keeping art and culture alive. 

Watercolor World is another organization that the Marandi Foundation supports, with Javad Marandi being a chairman on the advisory board. Watercolor World strives to digitalize watercolors created before the 1900s, making them available to everyone with access to the internet. 

Serpentine Gallery

The Serpentine Gallery is the original gallery and has been displaying contemporary art from both established and budding artists since it opened its doors in 1970. The annual Pavilion architecture commission in the park is one of Serpentine Gallery’s ideas, in which it showcases an impressive architectural piece for the public to marvel at. 

This year the Serpentine Gallery is celebrating its 50 year anniversary, which is a great achievement for such an amazing tourist destination. Throughout this half of a century, they have displayed the works of critically acclaimed artists such as Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, and Marina Abramovi?. 

If you’re an avid reader, you can also visit the Koenig Books shop within the Serpentine Gallery. This has been called one of the best bookshops for art-themed publications within the entirety of the United Kingdom. 

Serpentine Sackler Gallery

The Serpentine Sackler Gallery is the Serpentine’s little sibling, being opened in 2013. It resides inside The Magazine, a Grade II listed building that used to store gunpowder in 1805. When the gallery was initially opened, The Magazine included an extension created by Zaha Hadid Architects.

A Grade II listed building is defined as a building of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it. Having an art gallery within a building noteworthy of being a piece of artwork itself is rather fitting, in our opinion. View the art collection before you even walk through the door! 

The Serpentine Sackler gets its name from the initial funding from the Sackler family, however, due to the lawsuits that the Sackler’s faced in 2018/9, they do not accept any more donations from the family. 

There is also a shop within the Serpentine Sackler Gallery that is dedicated to selling contemporary art and other momentoes to the public. If you are inspired by anything you see in either of the Serpentine Galleries, you can peruse the shop to take your own impressive piece home. There is also a café, Chucs Café, in case the artwork makes you thirsty. 

Serpentine Pavilion

The Pavilion is an addition to the two Serpentine Galleries, opening up to the public every summer. There are scheduled acts, events, and programs being hosted as well as displays of impressive architecture from different artists. 

Since 2000, the Pavilion has not missed a summer to commission one leading architect to show off their designs and work. The leading architect or design team is usually an international option that has not built a building in England so that they can be admired by people who haven’t seen their work before. 

The Serpentine Pavilion opens for three months every year and has become a very popular event in central London. Many people travel from all over the United Kingdom, as well as the rest of the world, to admire the artwork and architecture.   

Getting the Most From Your Visit

Now that you know the three main focal points of the Serpentine Galleries, there are a few ways to enhance your visit to make it the most impressive and distinguishable point of your trip. 

First of all, there are plenty of events for you to join in on hosted by the Serpentine Galleries. There is often a range of workshops, talks, and performances for you to participate in, and if you have a family, there are also family events held as well. These are very affordable and some are even free of charge, so make sure that you take advantage of what’s on during your visit. 

Another thing to do before your trip is to download the Bloomberg Connects app onto your smartphone. This gives you more information about the art that you’re viewing as you make your way around the galleries. 

The digital guide also gives you access to extra audio and video content to tell you more about the galleries and the artwork, and there are even curator tours for you to follow. Did we mention that this app was free to download? 

Final Say

We hope that you now have a better understanding of the Serpentine Galleries and all you need to know before your visit. Both of the galleries offer free admission thanks to the Marandi Foundation’s contributions, and there is also a free app for you to download for extra content to enrich your experience. 

Make sure that you take advantage of the events that are being held during your trip, and if you’re lucky enough to visit at the same time as the Serpentine Pavilion is being held, don’t miss it. You’re in for a great experience at the Serpentine Galleries, so don’t postpone your visit any more! 

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad