great places to visit off the beaten path.
For those seeking a unique experience the “Topolski Century”, located near Waterloo, is an art installation worth seeking out. It is the only permanent art museum with only one piece of art. The installation is the artist’s chronicle of the 20th Century and includes painting, sculptures, slides, and film. Felix Topolski (1907-1989) was born in Warsaw and as an artist was commissioned by King George V to record his Silver Jubilee. He moved to London in 1935 and stayed there – becoming a war artist. In 1958 Prince Philip commissioned a mural of Elizabeth II’s Coronation for Buckingham Palace. In 1975 Topolski began work on the painted panorama he called Memoir of the Century, now renamed “Topolski Century”.
This artwork is a unique, monumental work of art, that presents an extraordinary panoramic record of key events and figures of the twentieth century. Six hundred feet long and between twelve and twenty feet high, this labyrinthine 600 foot long installation winds its way through three railway arches. It exists as a testimony to some of the most significant moments and characters that shaped the twentieth century as witnessed by the artist.
Mayor Boris Johnson relaunched Topolski Century in March 2009 after a project including painting restoration, new interpretation and new visitor facilities in the Victorian railway arches. The Century still requires funds to refurbish Topolski’s Studio arch next door as a Learning Centre for the education programme.
Topolski Century currently only offers private tours by appointment – to schedule a tour (small fee applies) go to their website for phone number / email. Tours are arranged by the artist’s daughter, Teresa. Their website is: www.topolskicentury.org.uk
Located at: 150-152 Hungerford Arches, Concert Hall Approach, SE1
Closest tube: Waterloo