Somerset House

Somerset House
Strand
London
Greater London
WC2R 1LA
England

Website

www.somersethouse.org.uk

E-mail

info@somersethouse.org.uk

Telephone

020 7845 4600

Fax

020 7836 7613

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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Somerset House is a spectacular neo-classical building in the heart of London, sitting between the Strand and the River Thames. During summer months a 'grove' of 55 fountains dance in the courtyard, and in winter you can skate on London's favourite outdoor ice rink. Somerset House also hosts open-air concerts and films, contemporary art and design exhibitions, family workshops and free guided tours of spaces usually hidden to visitors.

Venue Type:

Gallery, Heritage site, Historic house or home

See also

Opening hours

Embankment level 10.00-18.00

The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court 07.30-23.00

River Terrace & Seamen's Hall 08.00-23.00

Embankment Galleries (during exhibitions) 10.00-18.00 (last admission 17.30)

Admission charges

Entrance to Somerset House is free.
There is a charge for some temporary exhibitions please see www.somersethouse.org.uk for further details

Getting there

The nearest mainline rail stations are:
Charing Cross, Waterloo and Blackfriars.

The nearest underground stations are:
Temple, Covent Garden, Charing Cross and Embankment.

Buses servicing the Strand include numbers 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 77a, 91 and 176, while the River Bus Service can be taken to Embankment and Savoy piers.

Pedestrian access to Somerset House is available from Victoria Embankment, Waterloo Bridge (via a new footbridge link) or from the Strand.

Wheelchairs and disabled parking spaces can be booked in advance by calling: 020 7845 4600 (Mon - Fri 10.00 - 17.00)

Additional info

Smoking
Smoking is not permitted inside the buildings. Smoking is permitted on the River Terrace and in The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court.

Photography
Non-commercial photography is welcomed in most parts of Somerset House except, for reasons of copyright, in the Seamen's Hall and the King's Barge House. The use of tripods is not permitted for safety reasons. Visitors wishing to take non-flash photography at The Courtauld Gallery should enquire at the admissions desk. Unauthorised wedding photography is not permitted.

Fountains
The Edmond J. Safra Fountain Court is at the heart of Somerset House - a dignified courtyard with a mischievous streak.
The array of jets dance in an orchestrated sequence, with added coloured lighting at night - a refreshing surprise on a warm summer day.
To confirm you can see the fountain displays on your visit please call
020 7845 4600.

Collection details

Social History, Photography, Maritime, Fine Art, Design, Decorative and Applied Art, Architecture

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

AOI Illustration Awards 2014

  • 2 October — 2 November 2014

Returning to Somerset House for a third year, the AOI Illustration Awards Exhibition presents highlights from this year’s shortlist of contemporary illustration, entered by emerging and established talent to the Association of Illustrators’ (AOI) annual competition.

The shortlist includes illustration from across the world, recognising the exceptional work produced by illustrators internationally and promoting illustration as an essential contributor to global visual culture. The exhibition will thus feature a unique range of work from the UK to USA, and South Korea to France, covering a wide breadth of practice, including books, design and editorial, to reflect the diverse disciplines within the industry.

The AOI Illustration Awards is the only independent jury-selected illustration competition in the UK and this year’s winning work was chosen by a panel of esteemed judges from all aspects of the industry including commissioners, publishers and artists.

12 category winners have been chosen, from which two overall award winners will be announced in the classification of Professional illustration, which is open to all practicing professionals, and New Talent, which is open to students and recent graduates.

Category winners include children’s book illustrator Chris Haughton, self-taught Brazilian artist Laurindo Feliciano, Brooklynite Aaron Meshon, Berlin based moving image-maker Thoka Maer and Falmouth University graduates David Doran, William Grill and Katie Ponder.

The awards will feature in the next edition of Varoom Magazine published by the Association of Illustrators. This issue will celebrate the AOI Illustration Awards at Somerset House and spotlight image-makers and work that has shaped the editorial and cultural agendas and won specialist awards in 2014.

Website

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/aoi-illustration-awards-2014

100 Leading Ladies: A Portrait of Influential Senior Women in Britain by Nancy Honey

  • 2 — 26 October 2014

The 100 British senior women photographed and interviewed for this timely work helped transform the perception of what is possible for women to achieve in their lives.

Award-winning international photographer Nancy Honey invited each of these Leading Ladies to choose a place where she goes for inspiration for her portrait setting. This gives the viewer further insight into the lives, personalities and character of these admirable women.

The viewer will meet well-known women like Germaine Greer, as well as those who are admired by their peers in their respective fields, like Averil Mansfield, the UK's first female professor of surgery. There are politicians, scientists, restaurateurs, CEOs, authors, Britain's oldest working supermodel and much more. Many of them are the first women in their fields. All of them lived through a remarkable era of change that has affected us all.

One hundred women, one hundred portraits, one hundred unique histories that shine a guiding light on the paths they took to success in their fields and in life, so that younger women can also find their way.

A book of the project, designed by Steven Taylor Associates and published by Dewi Lewis Media will be launched on alongside the exhibition and will be available for purchase at the Rizzoli Bookshop priced at £30.

Website

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/100-leading-ladies

Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie, and The Advent of Punk

  • 5 November 2014 — 25 January 2015

On the occasion of Blondie’s 40th anniversary, Somerset House will showcase a series of iconic and previously unpublished photographs by Chris Stein, co-founder of Blondie, providing a behind the scenes look on life in the trailblazing band, from their underground early days to global sell-out shows and chart domination.

Blondie and other icons of the 70s and 80s new wave world, including Andy Warhol, David Bowie and The Ramones, are captured intimately and inimitably by Stein. Featuring over 50 images, the exhibition will serve as a snapshot to the punk scene that Blondie pioneered and show how their influence on music and fashion is just as relevant today as it was four decades ago.

Website

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/chris-stein-negative

Fashioning Winter

  • 11 November 2014 — 11 January 2015

As the UK’s most stylish skating scene sets up in the neoclassical courtyard of Somerset House, the hidden gems inside Somerset House will also transform into a fashion winter wonderland. Nine displays, each curated by a fashion expert, will pop up to tell the story of trends in cold climates from the past century.

Each display will cover a different theme on winter fashion and leisure pursuits and include items such as illustrated postcards of chic Parisians in their winter wares from the Belle Époque era, a 1920s Burberry ski suit, a pair of 1936/37 ice skates, and videos of fairytale Narnia-inspired catwalk shows from Alexander McQueen’s A/W 1999 to John Galliano’s A/W 2009 collection.

Website

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/fashioning-winter

Wounded: The Legacy of War

  • 12 November 2014 — 25 January 2015

An exhibition of photographs by Bryan Adams of young British servicemen and women who have suffered life-changing injuries on military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Featuring over 30 portraits on public display for the first time in the UK, the startling series honours the war heroes of today and highlights the plight of wounded personnel.

At the time of military withdrawal from Afghanistan and centenary commemorations of the First World War, the exhibition will serve as a timely and thought-provoking tribute to those who continue to put their lives in danger in the line of duty. A band of brothers and sisters who returned home for rehabilitation and resettlement, their disfigurements and disabilities act as a reminder of the battles beyond combat – mentally, emotionally and physically.

The intimate portraits are striking and unsettling, since they do not shy away from the atrocities and aftermath of war. In them, the inspiring individuals show the same spirit of resolve, courageousness and camaraderie in civilian life as in service. Their searingly honest and heartfelt stories will share the wall space with their pictures to provide insights into the personal paths of conflict to recovery.

The exhibition is accompanied by a stunning coffee table book, Wounded: The Legacy of War published by Steidl, priced at £50 with proceeds from the book going to veteran support charities BLESMA, Blind Veterans UK, Combat Stress and SSAFA, and War Child. It features images of 40 veteran soldiers taken by Adams, accompanied by each soldier’s personal story.

Website

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/wounded

Guy Bourdin: Image Maker

  • 27 November 2014 — 15 March 2015

The UK’s largest ever exhibition of the influential and enigmatic fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, featuring over 100 works and previously unseen material from the photographer’s estate, from 1955 to 1987. This major show will chart Bourdin’s distinguished 40-year career from Man Ray’s protégé to photography revolutionary in his own right and explore his pursuit of perfection. The exhibited works will exemplify the craftsmanship behind his images, from production to publication, and their enduring quality as a consequence.

Guy Bourdin’s editorial and advertising imagery represent a highpoint in late twentieth century fashion photography. His work took the basic function of the fashion photograph -to sell clothing, beauty and accessories- and made it into something rich and strange. Bourdin did this without resorting to exoticism; instead, he established the idea that the product is secondary to the image. From his professional debut for Paris Vogue in the 1950s, Bourdin developed a distinctive style of visual storytelling which continues to serve as a source of inspiration to contemporary fashion photographers from Tim Walker to Nick Knight.

Curated by Alistair O’Neill with Shelly Verthime, the exhibition will include over 100 colour exhibition prints of Bourdin’s most significant works, as well as early and late works in black and white that serve to challenge Bourdin’s reputation as a colour photographer. This is complimented by a range of other photographic materials: unique Polaroid test shots, double-page spread layouts, contact sheets and transparencies marked for composition that explore Bourdin’s craftsmanship as an image maker and the processes involved in producing startling and provocative imagery in a pre-digital age. It also highlights Bourdin as a pioneer of fashion film, showcasing a range of Super-8 films he made at the same time as his on-location photo shoots.

The exhibition will also feature a selection of paintings, working drawings, sketches and notebooks, not seen in the UK before, which inform his approach as an compositional image-maker and meticulous draughtsman. A highlight will be the ‘Walking Legs’ series - a campaign commissioned by Charles Jourdan in 1979 exhibited in its entirety for the first time with a yet unseen accompanying fashion film.

Admission

£9.00, £7.00 concessions

Website

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/guy-bourdin

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

A Victorian Excursion – History workshop for KS1 or KS2

This lively lesson based in the Gilbert Collection looks at the Victorian fashion for European travel. After an imaginary journey, the children will ‘arrive in Italy’ where they can wander amongst the Gilbert Collection’s unique display of micromosaic pictures, jewellery and furniture and ‘select a
souvenir’ to sketch for those back home.
This workshop is available at either 10.30am
or 1.30pm and includes entrance to the
Gilbert Collection.
Cost £30.00 plus VAT per class.

How to obtain

For further information or to book a session please call the Education Department on 020 7420 9406

A Box Full of Stories for KS1 and KS2 to support the Literacy Hour

This workshop uses the Gilbert Collection’s
outstanding collection of sparkling gold
boxes to extend literacy skills. Using drama
games and descriptive exercises, the
children create their own stories and art
work inspired by the gold box collection.
This workshop is available on Thursdays at either 10.30am
or 1.30pm and includes entrance to the
Gilbert Collection.
Cost £30.00 plus VAT per class.

How to obtain

For further information or to book a session please call the Education Department on 020 7420 9406

A Very Grand Tour for KS1 or KS2

Embark on a tour of the Gilbert Collection
with our eighteenth century aristocrat the
Marquis di Macaroni. Listen to his tales of
European travel in the past and marvel at the
exotic objects in the Gilbert Collection. This
workshop can be used to support work on
leisure, transport and clothing in the past.
This tour is available on Fridays at either
10.30am or at 1.30pm and includes
entrance into the Gilbert Collection.
Cost £30.00 plus VAT per class.

How to obtain

Call the Education Department on 020 7420 9406 for more information or to make a booking

Britain 1750-1900 – Tour of Somerset House

As home of the British Navy, Somerset House
had a vital role in this period. This tour
provides a unique insight in to the role of a
key government institution at this time of
great social, political and economic change.
This tour is available at either 10.30am
or 1.30am.
Cost £30.00 plus VAT per class.

How to obtain

For further information or to book a session please call the Education Department on 0207 420 9406

Cabinet of Curiosities – Art Workshop for KS1 or KS2

This workshop uses the amazing objects in
the Gilbert Collection to inspire the children
to create their own ‘cabinet of curiosities’.
A tour of the Gilbert Collection is the
stimulus for 3D and collage work resulting in
the creation of a replica 17th century
collector’s cabinet.
This all day workshop starting at 10.30am
includes entrance to the Gilbert Collection.
Cost £45.00 plus VAT per class.

How to obtain

For further information or to book a session please call the Education Department on 020 7420 9406

Investigating the Tudors – History workshop for KS2

This session based around the spectacular
Gilbert Collection encourages the interactive
use of historical sources to investigate life in
Tudor times and develops skills of historical
enquiry. Children will have opportunities to
create their own art work and learn about
Elizabethan banqueting; the session draws
on the rich history of Somerset House and
includes a teachers’ follow up pack.
This workshop is available at either 10.30am
or 1.30pm and includes entrance into the
Gilbert Collection.
Cost £30.00 plus VAT per class.

How to obtain

For further information or to make a booking please call 020 7420 9406

Getting there

The nearest mainline rail stations are:
Charing Cross, Waterloo and Blackfriars.

The nearest underground stations are:
Temple, Covent Garden, Charing Cross and Embankment.

Buses servicing the Strand include numbers 6, 9, 11, 13, 15, 23, 77a, 91 and 176, while the River Bus Service can be taken to Embankment and Savoy piers.

Pedestrian access to Somerset House is available from Victoria Embankment, Waterloo Bridge (via a new footbridge link) or from the Strand.

Wheelchairs and disabled parking spaces can be booked in advance by calling: 020 7845 4600 (Mon - Fri 10.00 - 17.00)

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