Although the new Tate Modern does not open to the public until the 17th June, members of the press were given a sneak preview of what is considered the most important new cultural building to open in Britain since the British Library. The new Switch House building has been designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, who also designed the original conversion of the Bankside Power Station in 2000.
The Switch House increases the size of Tate Modern by 60% and provides a series of new spaces to visitors including the subterranean concrete Tanks which will offer the first permanent museum spaces dedicated to live art and a stunning panoramic public viewing terrace on Level 10 which offers wonderful views of London. With the Switch Room on one side and the Boiler House on the other side, the cavernous Turbine Hall now becomes the central space of the Tate Modern.
Since Tate Modern first opened in 2000, it has become one of the most visited art galleries in the world and the opening of the Switch Room and rehanging of the Boiler House consolidates the organisations commitment to a more diverse programme. The free collection displays feature 800 works by over 300 artists from over 50 countries from Chile to India, Russia and Sudan to Thailand. 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 large galleries of the new Switch House concentrates on art from the 1960s to the present day with active sculptures and live performances in the Tanks area. Level 2 explores Object and Architecture with work from Ricardo Basbaum, Joan Jonas and Lewis Balz. Level 3 tries to understand the relationship between the artist and real life with work from Anna Lupas, Helio Oiticica and Rebecca Horn.
Level 4 looks at contemporary city life and dedicates a room to Louise Bourgeois which features one of her trademark spiders. Tate Exchange, an ‘open experiment’ occupies the entire fifth floor of the new Switch House building. Over 50 organisations will participate in Tate Modern’s programme, running events and projects on site and using art as a way of addressing wider issues in the world around us.
The opening of the New Tate Modern will be celebrated by free live performances, new commissions and a host of other special events. Three weeks of live art will animate the displays, this free programme will include Tania Bruguera’s police on horseback to Tino Sehgal’s gallery attendants bursting into song. The Tanks will host new live performance commissions running every day from 17 June to 3 July 2016.
The new Tate Modern will stay open until 22:00 each evening this weekend for a series of special events including a specially commissioned choral work by artist Peter Liversidge, performed at 17:00 on Saturday 18 June by over 500 singers from community choirs across London. Free screenings of film and video works from Tate’s collection will be held throughout each day in the newly refurbished Starr Cinema, while special events for young people and families will take place across the weekend.
In many ways the new Switch Room creates a more balanced Tate Modern with galleries both side of the wonderful Turbine Hall that now features a Tree exhibit from Ai Weiwei. The bridges between the two parts of the galleries offer exciting new perspectives of the Turbine Hall and makes travelling between the two parts of the building easier.
The design of the Switch Room with exposed raw concrete pays tribute to the power station’s industrial past, however the sweeping curving staircases and geometric shapes of the building are a work of art in their own right.
The magnificent panoramic views from the public viewing terrace on Level 10 are likely to be very popular with the many visitors who visit Tate Modern and the new parts of the building will allow considerable scope to push back the boundaries of what you can provide in a modern gallery and consolidate Tate Modern’s reputation as one of the world’s great centres of contemporary art.
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
For more information or to book tickets, visit the Tate Modern website here
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