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London’s Tate Modern reinvents itself with expansion

With five million annual visitors, the Tate Modern has enjoyed huge success. Opening this week, its new wing provides not only more exhibition space for modern art, but aims to give the museum a new global perspective.

London’s world-famous modern art museum, the Tate Modern, will unveil a pyramid-shaped extension that will provide 60 percent more exhibition space.

The Tate Modern, which first opened its doors in 2000, has welcomed twice as many visitors annually than originally anticipated, creating the need for an expansion. The result, known as the Switch House, was designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron – the same firm responsible for turning a disused power station on the Thames into the original Tate Modern building.

The jagged brick pyramidal extension, which costs around 260 million pounds (329 million euros, $368 million), coincides with the industrial look of the existing building.

Art in dialogue

“We wanted to stretch to being more environmental, providing big spaces for artists to work in performance and installation, but also more intimate spaces,” said museum chief Nicholas Serota.

Dialogue is a central goal of the new construction: Benches and chairs have been placed in the alcoves and near the windows at the top floor to encourage exchange among guests.

Visitors enter the building at the ground floor, which is to host installations and live performances, but will remain dark.. The upper floors of the 10-storey building are full of light and will showcase works from 1960 through today by some 300 artists.

Tate Modern Museum in London, Copyright: Reuters/S. WermuthThe 10-floor Switch House plays with geometrical form

Broader geographic focus

With its expanded facility, the Tate Modern is also broadening its artistic horizons and aims to incorporate artists from a greater variety of countries, as well as emphasizing more female artists.

“Over recent years, we have been working hard to transform the international collection at Tate to reflect that great art is made all over the world,” said new Tate director Frances Morris.

Boris Mikhailov of Ukraine, Yayoi Kusama of Japan, Ricardo Basbaum from Brazil and Franco-Algerian Kader Attia are some of the new artists joining Tate’s collection. In addition, some 40 percent of the new collection has never been shown before. Among the newly displayed works are graphics by German artist Joseph Beuys.

The opening of the Switch House will be celebrated this coming weekend with a series of events including interactive exhibitions and a 500-singer choir led by British artist Peter Liversidge.

The first temporary exhibition held in the Tate’s new wing will be dedicated to Georgia O’Keefe.

kbm/eg (AFP, dpa)

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