Apr 20, 2017 | By Sandy Chu
This Friday sees the launch of the brand new Tate Modern, following a £260 million revamp, and the creation of the brand new Switch House building – a vast 10-storey extension designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron and connected to the main Tate buildings via two bridges.
This exceptional new space is said to be the most significant landmark for arts and culture in the city for years to come, offering millions of visitors the chance to engage with, and view more diverse and interesting art on many different levels.
The launch of the new building coincides with an overall transformation of the Tate Modern and its collections, which now aims to show more diverse art from around the world including India, Russia and Thailand as well as more photography, performance and film. Additionally, the Tate Modern now features 50% of works by female artists, compared with just 17% when it first opened.
Following an address by Lord Browne, Chairman of the Tate, plus Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, and others, I got the chance to have an early look around.
As you enter via the Turbine hall, the space in the Switch House building opens out into the industrial looking tanks hall on the ground floor, which will be dedicated to live performance art and sculpture as well as video installations.
A winding staircase leads to the second first floor where a terrace shop and bar can be found, while floors two to four feature new collections of works which explore themes including art and the environment around it, the role of performance and choreography, and issues like subcultures, communities and migration. A favourite display included the Cloud Canyons bubble machine sculpture by David Medalla, and the interactive sleep cages by Ricardo Basbaum, which invite visitors to sit inside and experience the space which is shaped like various parts of an eye.
Meanwhile the fourth floor is home to the ARTIST ROOMS space which aims to feature works by a new artist every few months, the first of which is Louise Bourgeois, where you can view her legendary Spider sculpture among other pieces.
I am told the fifth floor is to become home to the new Tate Exchange, due to launch later in the year, becoming a space for events, projects and collaboration between various organisations, universities, charities and radio stations along with local artists.
The 10th floor of Switch House is home to the new viewing level, where visitors can immerse themselves in breathtaking panoramic views of London, offering a new perspective on the city. It’s well worth wandering up here for a few Insta-worthy shots of the city.
The experience at the new Tate Modern is topped off by a number of excellent gastronomic delights to be found within the terrace bar, the espresso bar, and the restaurant of Switch House, with a strong focus on locally-produced, sustainable food and drink.
The restaurant on the 9th floor serves a modern menu of British meat and fish, with the latter from Pinneys of Orford, lamb from Swaledale, and grain-fed free range Yorkshire Wold chicken, while all desserts, pastries and chocolates are handmade by chef Bronwen. Having tried one of the dark chocolates, inspired by Parisian chocolate-making, I can confirm they are delicious.
With a stunning view of St Paul’s and the river Thames, guests can enjoy starters including Cornish red crab with avocado, lamb rump with celeriac and lemon thyme for main, and passionfruit and hazelnut chocolate delice for dessert, all washed down with one of the many contemporary global wines on offer, selected by wine buyer Hamish Anderson. The setting meanwhile, is minimal and modern, allowing the food and the views to do the talking.
To celebrate the opening, the Tate will stay open until 10pm each evening this weekend for a series of special events, while free screenings and video works will be held each day. For Londoners and tourists alike, there really is no better time to get down to the Tate.
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