Tate Modern Adapts Oil Tanks Into Gallery Space

Launch will coincide with  2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Tate Modern has announced Phase 1 of the development of new galleries which will include the opening of the former power station’s spectacular Oil Tanks. These are  enormous circular spaces covering over thirty metres across and seven metres high. Chris Dercon, Director, Tate Modern said: “The Oil Tanks will give visitors a new way to explore and experience art at Tate Modern. Architecturally they are fantastic raw spaces, which are being carefully converted for public use without losing any of their unique industrial character. These spaces can better accommodate our evolving live art programme than the traditional white box of the gallery. They will provide us with a dedicated home for the latest developments in art practice and research, and reflect the evolving way the gallery is used by artists, curators and the public.”

These massive industrial chambers have lain unused since the power station was decommissioned. They are now being transformed into what promise to be some of the most exciting new spaces for art in the world. A further series of neighbouring galleries will provide a range of new spaces for works from the Tate Collection, including two raw concrete galleries and a unique steel-lined gallery. The Oil Tanks will also act as innovative social and learning spaces, as well as being equipped for a diverse programme of live performances and events, including a crush bar and full back of house facilities. Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said: “Tate Modern is responding to changing forms of art and to the changing expectations of visitors. The new building will allow us to show more of our Collection, while the Oil Tanks promise to be some of the most exciting spaces for new art in the world. We are immensely grateful to our generous donors for their support which brings us within striking distance of our target for the campaign, one of the largest ever in the cultural field.” The opportunity to complete the first phase of the building has been made possible by a number of major donations to the campaign which, together, have raised 70% of the total capital costs of £215 million. At this stage, the donors wish to remain anonymous.

The new Oil Tank spaces will be dedicated to showing the rich variety of art in live form. The East Tank will provide the opportunity to showcase major new installations, and will be expanded and complemented by the South Tank programme that includes film, performance, sound and discussions. Providing an anchor for these activities, which have previously been presented in diverse spaces around Tate Modern, the Oil Tanks will allow the public to explore the history of these practices through the latter half of the twentieth century and see bold new work being developed by artists today. The full programme for the Oil Tanks will be announced in early 2012.

Phase 2 of the new development, which is planned to open at the latest in 2016, will complete the building and provide further floors of galleries. In total, the project will create 70% more space for displaying works from Tate’s Collection and programme. Over the last ten years, the Collection has not only grown considerably in size, but also developed to reflect broader changes in contemporary art. Film, photography and live performance have become essential strands of artistic practice, and artists have continued to embrace new technologies. At the same time, the Collection has taken a more global perspective, encompassing work from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary said: “It is incredibly good news that such a unique and exciting new attraction will be opening next year.  The Oil Tanks will be like no other art space in the world and it is inspiring that so much has been made possible through the generosity of others. I would like to thank all those who have made it possible for the Tate to fulfil its vision and reaffirm its place among the world’s greatest galleries.”

Ruth Mackenzie, Director Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival also stated: “It is very exciting that the new development of Tate Modern, the world’s most visited modern art gallery, will open during the London 2012 Festival which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. The Oil Tank spaces will provide a wonderful inspiration to artists from all over the world and help London retain its pre eminence in the visual arts internationally.”

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