Much of the Serpentine’s appeal is in its snack size compared with some of the heavyweight galleries in London. Indeed its setting – in a Grade II-listed tea pavilion (built in 1934 in the heart of Hyde Park for the park’s ‘poorer visitors’ because the authorities thought there might be trouble if left without refreshments) – is also a pleasing antidote to the pandemonium of planet London. However, since becoming a contemporary art gallery in 1970 (and now co-directed by Hans Ulrich Obrist, named in 2009 as the most influential figure in the art world, and Julia Peyton-Jones OBE), its provocative exhibitions – from the likes of Jeff Koons, Richard Hamilton and Cindy Sherman – have stood in pleasing counterpoint to the tranquillity of the park. Each year from July to September the gallery reclaims some parkland with its Pavilion – always an exciting, and temporary showcase for pioneering and internationally acclaimed architects (previously, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas) under which a cafe operates, and in July, the social calendar’s highlight, the Serpentine Summer Party. Park Nights runs throughout August showing open-air films, talks and ‘sound’ events in the Pavilion. Awfully refreshing indeed.