Tate Modern extension opens

By Marco Cillario - Thu 23 June 2016, 10:06 am

A three-day celebration marked the opening of a 260 million, 10-storey extension of the Tate Modern art gallery on 17-19 June 2016.

More than 100,000 visits were recorded during the first two days of the new 64.5m pyramid-like structure, called Switch House, which increases the museum's capacity by 60%, adding 2,000sq m of space.

A series of interactive activities, installations by emerging artists and a performance by a choir made up of more than 500 singers from communities across London were among the highlights marking the scheme completion.

On its basement, the new building includes a performance space, called The Tanks: it is the world’s first museum gallery permanently dedicated to exhibiting live art.

On the top floor, a roof terrace offers a 360-degree panoramic view over London. Works by Picasso, Rothko and a range of other artists occupy the other levels.

The extension also incorporates a learning space, built with a £1 million contribution from Southwark Council. Workshops, conferences, courses, film screenings, interactive sessions and debates will be hosted in the new cultural facility. 

Switch House was designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the same architect who, in the 1990s, conceived the original plan to transform a disused power station into what would become one of the main hubs for modern art in the world.

The £134 million project for Tate Modern saw the derelict structure of Bankside Power Station transformed into an art gallery, which opened in 2000 and generated £150 million for the local economy in its first year of activity alone. Since then, it has attracted five million visitors a year and created 1,500 jobs.

A set of derelict oil tanks, each of which held one million gallons of oil during the building's former life, were used to form the basement area for the 2016 extension. Their caps were taken off and the pyramid structure built on top of them.