New Tate Modern switches on in London

Nick Myall
15 Jun 2016

The new Tate Modern in London by Herzog & de Meuron opens to the public

The new Tate Modern in London opened to the public on Friday 17 June. The new Switch House building is designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed the original conversion of the Bankside Power Station in 2000. It is considered by many to be the most important new cultural building to open in Britain since the British Library. 

Speaking at a press conference on 14 June to mark the opening Nicholas Serota, Director of Tate said: “The Tate has become the most visited modern art museum in the world. We initially expected it to attract two million visitors a year but at present it gets five million. Thanks to Herzog & de Meuron for this marvellous extension - one of your best buildings.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan commented: “Bringing culture to this neglected area of London has transformed it. This is London’s most important cultural building for 20 years.” While UK government minister of State for Culture Media and Sport Ed Vaizey added: “This new building is a statement of a confident UK that looks out to the world.”

The Tate’s collection of modern art has been completely transformed since Tate Modern first opened in 2000, in order to show that great art is made all over the world. As a result of a focused and intensive international acquisition programme over recent years, the collection is now far more diverse, including more photography, performance and film, as well as more work by women artists. The completely re-hung free collection displays feature 800 works by over 300 artists from over 50 countries from Chile to India, Russia and Sudan to Thailand. The new displays tell a broader story of modern and contemporary art over the last 100 years. Seventy-five percent of the art on show has been acquired since Tate Modern first opened and half of the solo displays are dedicated to women artists. The works are displayed across the existing Boiler House and the newly built Switch House. The Switch House increases the size of Tate Modern by 60% and offers a huge new variety of experiences for visitors. They range from the subterranean concrete Tanks, the first permanent museum spaces dedicated to live art, to new spaces for Learning and the magnificent panoramic public viewing terrace on Level 10, offering a completely new perspective on London. The Turbine Hall now becomes the central space of the museum. Much-loved masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko and Henri Matisse, are joined by recent acquisitions from around the world which open out the history of modernism. These include 1930s photography by Lionel Wendt from Sri Lanka, 1950s collage by Benode Behari Mukherjee from India, and 1960s sculpture by Saloua Raouda Choucair from Lebanon. There are also major works of contemporary art, including a giant tower of 800 radios by Cildo Meireles from Brazil, a room full of human hair and car bumpers by Sheela Gowda from India, a tapestry of thousands of bottle tops by El Anatsui from Ghana and an immersive 8-screen film installation by Apichatpong Weerasethakul from Thailand.

Before the opening, 3,000 school children from across the UK, from Orkney to St Ives, will be the first members of the public to see the new Tate Modern at a special preview on Thursday 16 June 2016. Welcomed by artist Bob and Roberta Smith, they will get an exclusive opportunity to explore the displays and the new building, and be inspired by modern and contemporary art from around the world. Later this year Tate will launch Tate Exchange, an ambitious ‘open experiment’ occupying an entire floor of the new Switch House building. Over 50 organisations will participate in Tate Modern’s creative process for the very first time, running events and projects on site and using art as a way of addressing wider issues in the world around us. The programme will bring together artists such as Guerrilla Girls and Tim Etchells alongside charities, community radio stations, universities and healthcare trusts. 

Nick Myall
News Editor

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