The Tate Modern, the new home of the Tate’s collection of modern and contemporary international art from 1900 to the present, opened in May 2000.
The gallery is housed in the old Bankside Power Station created by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, also architect of Battersea Power Station and designer of the red telephone box.
The vast building was remodelled by the Swiss architects, Herzog & de Meuron, at a cost of £134 million. Although the massive block, with its huge central tower, has been smartened up, its industrial character still asserts itself. A new glass structure, created by Michael Craig-Martin in collaboration with the architects, has been added at roof level to provide two more floors and bring in more light.
From here there are magnificent views over London. The two-storey beam of light that runs along the top of the building (known as ‘The Swiss Light’) has become a beacon on the London skyline.
The cathedral-like Turbine Hall was created following the removal of the old power station machinery, and this enormous room rises the whole height of the building, with three gallery floors, shops and cafes built into a compact bank on one side.
Visitors can enjoy the views down into the Turbine Hall from the mezzanine bridge on Level 2 and from the various galleries. Seating is available between the two suites on each floor and from here there are views of the Thames and across London.
View from top-floor cafeThe cafe on Level 7 boasts panoramic views across the river to St Paul’s and over south London. These are particularly spectacular at night, when you can book dinner, or just take a drink at the bar.
Recent ExhibitionThe enormous size of the building, the Turbine Hall is 500 feet long and 100 feet high, means that a far greater range of works can be displayed than was possible at the original Millbank site. The Tate Modern exhibits its works by theme, still life, landscape, history painting and the nude.
Housed in four separate suites on two floors, the selections illustrate how artists continue to use these traditional subjects.
As well as its permanent collection, Tate Modern also houses regular special exhibitions, for which there is usually a charge. Following an agreement with the V&A, the two institutions will regularly exchange works of art.
The Millennium Bridge was designed by Norman Foster, Anthony Caro and Ove Arup to link Tate Modern with St Paul’s Cathedral, just across the Thames. However, it was closed within days of its official opening when it was found that the movement of pedestrians made the bridge sway alarmingly. The strengthened bridge was re-opened in 2002.
There are plans to link Tate Modern by boat, shuttle bus, and pedestrian and bicycle routes to the former Tate Gallery on Millbank, now known as the Tate Britain.
Admission free, except for special exhibitions.