Where to see Art Deco art and architecture
From London to Glasgow, here are some of the fascinating places you can discover Art Deco artworks and architecture with a National Art Pass.
What is Art Deco?
Art Deco is a movement that first appeared in France at the start of the 20th century, before spreading across Europe and the United States in the interwar years. It can be recognised by its use of geometric forms, symmetry and bright colours. It diverged from Art Nouveau and embraced the machine age in the wake of industrialism. Some argue that Art Deco had more egalitarian aims: to imbue everyday objects with art and to challenge the hierarchies often found in traditional visual arts.
In the UK, the Art Deco movement coincided with the leisure boom during the 1920s and 1930s and its style found its way onto the exteriors and interiors of the cinemas, hotels, theatres and leisure centres that popped up across the country, but particularly along the British coast. Margate's Dreamland, originally a cinema but now an amusement park, is a prime example, appearing along the Kent town's seafront during a time when it saw an influx of holidaymakers seeking out the curative air.
We've highlighted some of the best museums and galleries across the UK where you can discover Art Deco works with a National Art Pass, getting you brilliant discounts at every venue.
Where can I see Art Deco art and architecture with a National Art Pass?
V&A's rich collection of Art Deco objects demonstrate the movement's eclecticism and capacity to blend tradition and progress. Highlights include an original poster from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1925. This exhibition displayed work by over 15,000 artists, architectures and designers and is considered a pivotal moment for the movement, putting it on a world stage, which then ricocheted across Europe and the US.
Marvel at Eltham Palace's glamorous Art Deco interiors that starkly contrast the ancient surroundings of the former medieval palace. The entrance hall is particularly striking, with a glazed dome that allows light to flood in, and walls lined with black bean veneer and decorated with marquetry, depicting Viking and Roman soldiers.
Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has a stunning collection of objects and furniture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style. Although Mackintosh's work technically belongs to Art Nouveau, it has been argued that his style was a significant predecessor to and influence on Art Deco as it pared back on ornamentation and was more geometric. Here you can find the largest permanent display of Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style's work, including stained glass, metalwork, and reconstructed rooms with furniture from the time.
In 2015, Bethlem Museum of the Mind moved into a grand Art Deco building in the centre of Bethlem Royal Hospital in South London's Beckenham. The museum records the lives and experiences of people with mental health problems, and celebrates their achievements. Its striking entrance features travertine flooring and an elaborate staircase with bronze handrails.
Widely recognised as an Art Deco masterpiece, the Barber Institute of Arts opened to the public in 1939 and was designed by Robert Atkinson, one of Britain's leading architects, renowned for creating beautiful cinemas which embraced the Art Deco style. It boasts a central concert hall with exceptional acoustics, art galleries and a dedicated Art History library.
The more you see, the more we do.
The National Art Pass lets you enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, while raising money to support them.