Rebecca Herbert: Getting around South London as a wheelchair user

South London is home to four world famous galleries which are wheelchair accessible and mainly free.

Rebecca Herbert

On January 7, 1811, art collector Sir Peter Francis Bourgeois RA died, bequeathing to Dulwich College 360 paintings that he and fellow art dealer Noel Desenfans had collected.

The paintings were given under the condition that they be for the “inspection of the public” and architect Sir John Soane recommended to create a mausoleum for the men.

The world’s first purpose-built public art gallery, integrating the mausoleum into the design, was then founded.

Dulwich Picture Gallery now houses a collection of more than 600 paintings by the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough and Canaletto.

You are encouraged to take photographs throughout the collection and I posed with Vase of Flowers by Claude Monet.

Ribera: Art of Violence is the current exhibition and first UK show of work by the Spanish Baroque artist, Jusepe de Ribera (1591–1652), displaying his most sensational and shocking work.

All areas of the gallery are on one level. The gallery also has family events, special talks, and a restaurant serving meals and afternoon tea.

These can be enjoyed inside or in the stunning gardens.

Neither West Dulwich nor North Dulwich railway stations have step-free access, but there is a small car park for disabled use only.

There is an accessible toilet and admission charges apply. The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill has an extensive collection of anthropology, natural history, and musical instruments.

It is wheelchair friendly with accessible toilets and a lift gives access to all the exhibition areas inside the museum. Entrance to the museum and gardens is free.

There is a charge for the butterfly house, the aquarium and some exhibitions.

The museum hosts a variety of special exhibitions, concerts, and festivals.

There will be a Halloween Fair on Saturday and Sunday, October 27 and 28 between 10.30am and 4.30pm.

It will have an arts and crafts market and food stalls.

You can also visit the Horniman farmers’ market every Saturday morning to pick-up seasonal fruit and veg, artisan bread, organic meat, craft beer and hot food.

Seventeen videos, hosted throughout the Horniman’s website, give a visual introduction to each space as well as allowing visitors to see a virtual journey from Forest Hill railway station and bus stops nearby, and along routes within the Horniman including to the lifts, the cafe and toilets.

Connie Churcher, Digital Manager at the Horniman, said: “These videos are one more way for the Horniman to say “welcome, come on in,”

The Saatchi Gallery shows work by largely unseen young artists or by international artists whose work has been rarely or never exhibited in the UK.

Exhibition: Lagrimas Negras. Artist: Alejandra Prieto. Die Ecke Gallery, Santiago, Chile, 2011

When The Saatchi Gallery first opened more than 25 years ago, it was only those who had a dedicated interest in contemporary art, who sought out the gallery to see work by new artists.

The audience, however, built steadily over the years and visitor numbers now exceed 1.5million per year.

Current work includes Saatchi Gallery presents Black Mirror which features the work of 26 contemporary artists.

It explores how political uncertainty has influenced art of recent years. Assisted or ramp access is available at the gallery’s main entrance.

All floors have lifts and there is level access between the galleries on each floor.

There are two blue badge disabled parking bays to the rear of the gallery which can be reserved at 0207 811 3085.

In 1889 Henry Tate, an industrialist who had made his fortune as a sugar refiner, offered his collection of British 19th century art to the nation and provided funding for the first Tate Gallery.

There are now galleries in London, Liverpool and Cornwall. Since it opened in May 2000, more than 40 million people have visited Tate Modern.

Tate Modern showcases international modern and contemporary art.

Made up of two buildings, the Natalie Bell Building and Blavatnik Building, moving around different floors involves crossing indoor bridges.

Lifts are available on each level. There are five entrances to the gallery with accessible toilets located on every floor, on the concourses.

Current exhibitions include stories of photography and abstract art and the work of American artist Jenny Holzer.

Wheelchair-friendly Food and Theatres
Finding a wheelchair accessible restaurant or theatre with an accessible toilet and step- free entrance often seems like an impossible task but I will make the process easier;

Ask, 85 Kew Green, Richmond, TW9 3AH
The Italian restaurant has a slight lisp to enter but is then on one level with a disabled toilet. Unfortunately, there is a step to get into the garden.

Alleyn’s Head, Park Hall Road, West Dulwich SE21 8BW.
The pub is fully accessible with a disabled toilet and step free access. There is a large car park. The pub has friendly staff and offers delicious food with big portions.

The Funeral Director
(October 31 until November 24)
Winner of the 2018 Papatango New Writing Prize, the play is a heartfelt story of sexuality, gender and religion in 21st-century Britain.

Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD 020 7407 0234 
Wise Children (October 8 until November 10)
Wise Children is a celebration of show business, family, forgiveness and hope. The Old Vic, The Cut, Lambeth, London SE1 8NB 0844 871 7628

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