The world's most visited modern art museum, the Tate Modern on London's Bankside, has been granted a new and extended premises licence following the completion of its £260 million extension.
At its opening in 2000, the Tate anticipated some 2 million visitors per year. In reality the museum’s success has attracted over 5 million people annually, over 50% of whom are under the age of 35. Over 70 million people have passed through its doors. The need to extend its available space has long been appreciated by the Board of Trustees of the Tate Gallery.
In its 16 years of operation, the Tate Modern has proved to be a major driver of inward investment and tourism. It has played a vital role in the regeneration of the London Borough of Southwark generating 1,500 new jobs and £100m for the local economy in its first year alone. The area around the former Bankside Power Station that now houses the museum has become a hive of cultural and commercial activity. Over 70,000 people now work in Bankside compared to just 6,000 before the Tate opened. Underlying its charitable status, the Tate has provided learning programmes for over 630,000 people over just the last year.
Tate Modern has become part of the neighbourhood and has built strong links with the community. The Tate Modern extension project will be a catalyst for engaging local audiences more deeply and broadening access to the museum.A public walkway through the building now makes possible a direct route from the City to the heart of Southwark. There are two new public squares to the south and west of the building. To the east, a new planted area is being created especially for the use of the local community and staff.
The new development transforms Tate Modern. An iconic new ten-storey building, known as the "Switch House", has been added to the south of the existing gallery. Underneath the tower, two giant former oil tanks have been transformed into live performance art spaces. The extension adds some 20,000m2 of space for displaying the collection, performance and installation art and for learning - all allowing visitors to engage more deeply with the art, as well as creating more social and communal spaces for visitors to unwind and relax in the museum. Gallery space will be increased by 60%. The maximum capacity of the museum will rise from 7,500 to 12,500 people.
The new extension has been described by cultural commentators as "London's first great public building of 21st century" and "the most important cultural building in UK since the British Library opened in 1998".
Tate’s Director, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:
"The new Tate Modern is an instrument that will allow us to present a changing perspective on the world, offer a rich variety of experiences to visitors and give opportunities to artists to explore new ways of making and showing their work."
Given the magnitude of the extension it was necessary to apply for a new premises licence to cover both the old and new parts of the building. Since the Tate Modern is within one of Southwark’s cumulative impact areas, the primary responsible authorities all made representations objecting to the grant of the application in its original state on grounds that included the potential impact on nearby residents. Extensive and constructive engagement between the Tate and the responsible authorities led to agreements being reached that substantially limited the issues to be decided at the hearing of the application before Southwark’s licensing sub-committee on 10 April 2016. At that hearing the Tate Modern was granted a premises licence, in line with its submissions, that included all licensable activities. The Tate is now permitted to open to extended hours from 07:00 until 01:00 all week, with provision for up to 15 special events when the premises can open until 03:00.
The new extension will be formally opened to the public on 17 June 2016.
Gary Grant of Francis Taylor Building acted for the Tate Modern, instructed by Andrew Wong of Gordon Dadds Solicitors and Sarah Bailey, Tate’s Head of Legal.