Tate Gains Weight

By london_will Last edited 170 months ago
Tate Gains Weight

Have you ever noticed how cramped the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern feels? Well, all that's about to change. Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota has announced plans to drastically expand the complex, increasing the existing 34,000 square metres of gallery space 50%.

The new complex - which will be designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architects behind the orginal conversion - will take shape to the south of the Bankside gallery, a site presently occupied by an unlovely electricity substation.

Perhaps it is mere conincidence that culture secretary Tessa Jowell has just accused English museums of "hoarding" cultural artefacts and hiding them from public view. In calling for the "cultural centre of gravity" to move from London, she told the BBC: "The best of our culture should be accessible to all, no matter where they live."

So, the Tate is at least making an effort to display more art, and a big, expensive one at that. However, it is pouring all that new gallery space into the already-vast Bankside complex, already the world's second-largest gallery of modern art (it was the largest until MoMA in New York opened last year). One thing that cannot be said about London is that it lacks gallery space, and an admirable part of the Tate's recent history has been the opening of its satellites in other parts of the country - St Ives and Liverpool.

Is it really in London's interest to have the already-elephantine Tate swell yet further? Could the money be better spent up in some less-fortunate area of the North or Midlands?

Here's a modest proposal. Exhibitions, ideally, should tour the country. So how about a museum that tours with them? The Tate should buy or build a large ship and turn it into a gallery. Call it "Tate Afloat". The gallery can then tour the coast, reaching culture-strapped areas with great efficiency. They've already proposed a gallery in space, so it's not such a stretch, and Damien could do the decor - after all, he's already kitted out one boat for the gallery. And it could even come to London once in a while. Maybe it's a bit unfair on the inland towns, but Londonist thinks this plan's got legs. Sea legs.

Last Updated 27 January 2005