Last week, the Tate Modern art gallery in London re-opened its doors to unveil the Switch House, an extension of the gallery. The new building is shaped like a pyramid and provides a larger space for more artwork to cater to the increasingly international view of modern and contemporary art. According to the official Tate Modern website, the new building is designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron and presents a striking combination of raw industrial spaces and refined 21st century architecture. The facade uses brick to match the surface of the existing museum, whilst creating something radically new – a perforated brick lattice through which the interior lights glow in the evening. The existing Tate Modern building was originally designed as a power station by Giles Gilbert Scott in the 1950s. The pyramid shape of the new Switch House building may be a memorable addition to London’s skyline and offers up to 60 per cent extra space for visitors to explore.
The Tate Modern is London’s free national museum of modern and contemporary art. Here, visitors may view work for free by artists such as Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Warhol amongst other famous characters in the world of art. There may be new exhibitions on a regular basis at the Tate Modern, as the gallery showcases art from artists around the world as well as newer artists to the scene. For example, there are currently exhibitions open which explore the art of Cubism, Constructionism and Minimalism at Tate Modern. In addition to this, there are temporary exhibitions such as Mona Hatoum’s exhibition which is at the gallery until the 21st August 2016. In preparation for the re-opening of the gallery following the extension of the Switch House building, the entire collection inside has been completely re-hung and features photography, performance and film; as well as the work of a broader range of international and female artists.
The London based art gallery opened its doors to the public in 1897 and at the time, displayed a small collection of British artwork. Today, the gallery has four major sites and the national collection now includes nearly 70,000 pieces of art. The original gallery is named after industrialist, Henry Tate, who offered his collection of British art to the nation. In 1992 the Tate Trustees announced their intention to create a separate gallery for international modern and contemporary art in London, as they already had galleries in St. Ives and Liverpool. The former Bankside Power Station was selected as the new gallery site and the architects designed it to retain much of the original character of the building. Since opening in 2000, more than 40 million people have visited the Tate Modern gallery, and it is one of the United Kingdom’s top three tourist attractions generating an estimated £100 million in economic benefits to London annually.
For those who wish to visit the Tate Modern gallery in London, there is a Tate Boat which travels between the Tate Britain and Tate Modern every 40 minutes during opening hours, offering comprehensive views of the river which has inspired so much British art. While each of the Tate’s galleries offers their own café facilities, the restaurant at Tate Modern sits at the top floor and offers seasonal British food with a panoramic view of London. The Tate Liverpool offers British and international modern and contemporary art and is open daily, however the St. Ives Tate gallery is currently closed until early 2017 due to a refurbishment project.
How might the extension of the Tate Modern assist in rewriting art history?