First look: The new Tate Modern

April 14, 2016

A group of more than 500 singers will greet the first visitors to the new Tate Modern gallery when it opens in June.

Following that visitors can look forward to being corralled by horseback police in the Turbine Hall courtesy of Tania Bruguera’s Tatlin’s Whisper, as well as experiencing experimental sculpture from Tokyo, social art from South Africa and performance from Romania. “Performance and engagement is becoming ever more prevalent.

Tate director Nicolas Serota admitted the new gallery, which is located behind the iconic South Bank development, was still £30m short of fully costing the extensive new building project. This appears to leave it in virtually the same financial position it was in eight months ago, with Serota saying: “We’re confident we’ll raise the money… I’m speaking to lots of benefactors”. He said the shortfall would not affect the June opening, adding the new building would “give a new face to the city”.

The development was originally slated to open in time for the 2012 Olympics but was pushed back when it became clear this was wildly ambitious; the total cost has risen from £215m to £260m.

The first interior pictures of the new building show a sleek, airy space with the same emphasis on wood and poured concrete as the other Tate modern buildings.

Serota says this is probably the last expansion of the Tate Modern: “I think it’s the right size. It’s about as much as you could take in on one day”. New Tate director Frances Morris said future expansion will probably be “virtual rather than digital”.

The development is expected to boost visitor numbers to the Tate Modern, with Serota expecting an uptick from the present 4.5 to 5m a year to 5 to 5.5m

Morris said: “It’s an exciting moment for the Tate Modern. Art is always changing and the Tate is changing too. We think of art in light of the present. Over 75 per cent of the works have been acquired since the year 2000. There are two stories: the new building and the building of the collection.

“The collection now includes work by artists from 57 countries. It’s a very different picture than the one we opened with in 2000.”

Shs said the gallery wants to tell a global and accessible story of modern art that presents new and existing works in innovative ways. There will be a renewed focus on performance, as well as a greatly increased focus on photography and mixed media work.

Many installation and sculpture pieces will be brought out of storage and presented in “the original vision of the artist”, allowing visitors to walk through and interact with them.

Some things, however, will remain the same: “The Rothko room will always remain the Rothko room”, said Morris, and reiterated the galley’s commitment to British artists including Anish Kapoor.

To coincide with the new opening, there will be a seven metre tree in the Turbine Hall made by renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which the Tate recently acquired. In a nod to the opening exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2000, there will be a new permanent hub showcasing the work of sculptor Louise Bourgeois.

There will also be a new app made in conjunction with Bloomberg allowing people to place items in the collection in context, as well as helping to guide visitors to their favourite works.

The new 10 storey wing, designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, will add 60 per cent more gallery space (20,700 sq m) – both large and “intimate” – as well as a public terrace on the 10th floor.

The facade of the new wing uses brick that matches the existing building, and the Tate has described it as “a striking combination of raw industrial spaces and refined 21st century architecture”.

Architect Jacques Herzog said: “The form is something between a very rational form and a very irrational form, a pyramidal shape. It’s to do with the geometries of the land parcel, but also angles that will lead people into the galleries.”

The permanent exhibitions in the existing Tate Modern building will be re-hung to coincide with the opening.

The Tate Modern opened in 2000 and has become the most popular contemporary art space in the world, playing host to blockbuster exhibitions including 2014’s record-breaking Henri Matisse show, which attracted a record 562,622 visitors over its five-month run, and the 2012’s vast Damien Hirst retrospective. The highly anticipated David Hockney show, scheduled for next year, looks set to smash the record for visitor numbers.

First published in City A.M.