The Tate Modern extension opened on 17 June

Successful opening weekend for Tate Modern extension

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 21.06.2016
The Switch House attracts record numbers
Tate Modern’s new extension, the Switch House, has brought record footfall to the central London gallery since opening to the public last Friday.

The institution recorded 143,000 visitors over the weekend, with 54,000 visits on Saturday, its highest ever attendance for a single day. A series of performances and talks were staged throughout the weekend, with three more weeks of live events and commissions lined up to celebrate the opening.

Four years overdue, the ten-storey extension was designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the same architects who supervised the Bankside building’s original conversion from power station to gallery in 2000. The new wing has increased Tate Modern’s space by 60%.

“Although we have almost doubled the number of regular visitors to the galleries during our opening weekend, we have space for it to feel comfortable even when busy,” said the gallery’s director Frances Morris. “There has been a tremendous response from the public and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors over the coming months.”

The gallery has undertaken an international acquisition programme in recent years to expand and diversify its collections, including more photography, performance and film, and greater representation of female artists, whose work now makes up 50% of the collection. More than 300 artists from over 50 countries are represented.

Arranged thematically, Tate Modern’s permanent collection has been entirely rehung across its existing building and new extension, with the aim of telling “a broader story of modern and contemporary art” over the last century. It includes the first permanent exhibition space in the world dedicated to live performance art.

The new galleries incorporate digital technology to a much greater extent, with features such as interactive spaces, an app to showcase the collections in new ways, and a digital drawing bar that allows visitors to create their own artworks on digital sketchpads.

The redevelopment project cost £260m and was supported by the largest cultural fundraising effort yet to take place in the UK.

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