An exciting transformation of Tate Britain, one of London’s most distinguished art museums, was revealed to the public today. Headed by Caruso St John with project managers Deloitte and structural engineers Alan Baxter & Associates, the £45m project was first glimpsed by an eager arts crowd when a set of ten new gallery spaces were opened in May 2013.
The Grade II* listed Tate Britain was first opened in 1897 and sits on the edge of the River Thames at the site of the former Millbank Prison, where felons were held before being shipped to Australia until 1890. A number of national trusts and foundations have contributed to the well-earned revamp of Tate Britain, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, and The Manton Foundation.
Speaking on the opening today, Director of Tate Britain Penelope Curtis said: “The new Tate Britain opens up the Millbank entrance to reassert and enhance the original grandeur and logic of the galleries. Adam Caruso and Peter St John have created new spaces out of old and artists have helped to articulate a new sense of the public realm.”
As Curtis alludes to in this comment, the freshly-opened museum is now a blend of original architectural elements and contemporary features, befitting of a 21st-century audience. The main entrance on Millbank has been reopened, welcoming visitors to the museum with a breathtaking new spiral staircase (images of which have been widely circulated and highly praised). This grand staircase leads down to a series of new public spaces below ground level.
Also included in the redeveloped Tate Britain are: the reopening of The Whistler Restaurant, complete with The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats by Rex Whistler; the new Djanogly Café and exterior terrace; several learning studios; an Archive Gallery; and the Grand Saloon overlooking the Thames. For the first time since the 1920s, the circular balcony of the Rotunda’s domed atrium has also been made available, this time for use as a café and bar for Tate Members.