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> Tate Modern Expansion Announced, World's biggest art museum gets bigger

post Jul 26 2006, 10:06 AM
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From the Financial Times

Pyramid of stacked glass boxes planned as 165m Tate Modern extension

By Peter Aspden

Published: July 26 2006 03:00 | Last updated: July 26 2006 03:00

It is already the most popular museum of modern art in the world and it is about to become even bigger.

Tate Modern yesterday announced plans for a 230ft-high extension which would greatly increase its existing floor space and cater for more than 1m extra visitors a year. It is planned to open in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The 165m extension, a stack of rectangular boxes shaped into a glass pyramid, has been designed by Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog, the Swiss architects who masterminded the conversion of Bankside power station into the existing Tate Modern a decade ago.

The extension would provide 10 galleries of varying sizes and shapes; two performance spaces in the former power station's disused oil tanks; learning spaces; two shops and six cafes, bars and restaurants.

An entrance would also be built on the gallery's south side. A roof terrace would provide views across London and 1,000 trees would be planted. The expansion was made possible by the modernisation of an electricity sub-station to the south of the gallery, freeing up space.

Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate galleries, said the extension was necessary to cope with the number of visitors. "Tate Modern was originally designed to receive 1.8m visitors a year. Now it receives more than 4m," he said.

Vicente Todoli, director of Tate Modern, yesterday compared scenes from a recent Bank Holiday weekend at the gallery with a "crowded beach in Benidorm".

Sir Nicholas also said that there had been profound changes to the art scene since Tate Modern was designed in the mid-1990s.

It now needed to cater for photography, film, performance and new media, as well as "stretching the boundaries" of its collecting policy to include art from Latin America, Africa and Asia. "We need the space to show that work," he said.

"In addition, the expectations of visitors have been dramatically transformed over the last 10 years. They expect a different kind of experience," he added.

The new building, which will go before planners at Southwark council in September, with a decision expected next spring, would be financed by private and public money. The first tranche was announced yesterday with an award of 7m from the London Development Agency.

Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, described Tate Modern as "one of the capital's major success stories".

Sir Nicholas said he was confident of raising the remainder of the cash, although he declined to reveal how much had been donated or promised already.

"We do not start with a huge war chest. We start with an ambition and a need," he said.

The expansion would play a main role in the regeneration of the surrounding area, said Nicholas Stanton, leader of Southwark council.

The building would look out on to a new piazza, and new north-south routes through the gallery would be designed.

Sir Nicholas said the gallery would become part of a "Bankside Urban Park", which would link the 20-odd cultural institutions in the area. "It is part of the steady regeneration of this part of London which has been neglected for so long."

He added that a plan to build a 22-storey tower block next to the gallery, which had received permission, but which he had opposed, had now been suspended.

Simon Hughes, MP for North Southwark and Bermondsey, praised the plans in a film at yesterday's announcement.

He described the area as historically rich in culture: "Dickens was here, Chaucer was here, Shakespeare was here. Michael Caine was born up the road."

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
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post Aug 15 2011, 06:28 AM
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