The Tate Modern in London

Photo of The Tate Modern in London, England
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of The Tate Modern in London, England
Photograph © London Tourist Board.
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Photo of The Tate Modern in London, England
Photograph © London Tourist Board.
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The Tate Modern
Also known as:The Cathedral of Cool
Formerly:Bankside Power Station

25 Bankside, London, England, Bankside SE1
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The Europeans have a talent for finding new uses for old buildings. In this case, the Tate Modern - an art gallery built inside a disused power plant. If this was the United States, the plant would have been leveled in a spectacular implosion, and a shiny new building erected on the spot. But Britons honor their heritage. Even if it is an ugly power station, they realize that sentiments change over the years, and today's discarded hulk of a structure can emerge like a phoenix as tomorrow's ultra-modern too-hip-for-you mega tourist attraction. The Tate Modern was born of necessity. The old Tate Museum in Millbank, now known as the Tate Britain, simply had too much art. In 1992 the decision was made to divide the collection and open another branch. When the abandoned power station on the banks of the Thames was considered, many scoffed. They said the building was too old, and the massive space housing the power generators was too big for serious art. That's where they were wrong. Now called Turbine Hall, it is able to bring massive works of art to people who would not be able to travel the world to see them. Its five-hundred foot length allows natural light to penetrate a space that would need artificial light if it was divided. The public reaction was spectacular. People lined up for hours to get in. In its first year of operation, more than five million people scrambled through the doors. Since then audience figures have settled to a more sensible level, and the post-September 11th tourist economy has made things hard for the founders. In 2003 the Tate staff managed to reconcile the divided collection by establishing a water shuttle service between the two galleries. Still, millions of people each year flock to the Tate Modern, and it has quickly risen to become one of the top ten attractions in London.

Quick Facts
Notes
    >The height of the chimney was intentionally kept lower than the height of Saint Paul's Cathedral.
    >The building contains 4,200,000 bricks.
    >The power station was designed by the same man who came up with the design for Britain's red telephone booths.
    >12,000 poured into the building in its first eight hours. Attendance figures far exceeded expectations.
    >The gallery received 5,000,000 visitors in its first year - more than double pre-opening estimates.
    >1965 - The power station opens.
    >1981 - The power station is abandoned.
    >April, 2001 - The architects who designed the Tate Modern's conversion win the Pritzker Prize for their work.
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  A perfect exhibition space. Pure POWER!

Jamie - Thursday, June 9th, 2005 @ 11:42am