On 19 November a new Tate Britain will be unveiled. The oldest part of the Grade II* Millbank building has been transformed by leading architects Caruso St John. In May the 10 new galleries officially opened with a chronological presentation of the Tate’s outstanding collection of British art and next week the other new spaces will open to the public.
The £45 million project includes the reopening of the main entrance to Tate Britain on Millbank, combining new architectural features with the excavation of the most beautiful original elements of the building. These changes will restore the historical logic of the space and features a stunning new spiral staircase inside the entrance opening up access to new public spaces below.
The Whistler Restaurant will also reopen, with its famous Rex Whistler mural, The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats 1926-7, fully restored. Opposite, the new Djanogly Café opens onto an exterior terrace and will serve food made with seasonal British ingredients. In addition to alterations to the space, the tables and seating areas have been altered and are inspired by leading British Arts and Crafts designers active in the founding year of Tate Britain – 1897.
There will also be new learning studios located throughout the gallery including a dedicated schools’ entrance and reception underneath the Millbank Entrance steps; and a new archive gallery, which will present temporary displays from Tate’s extensive archive of artists’ letters and ephemera. Paul Noble is set to produce the first display and will examine the history of the Tate Britain site.
Since the 1920s the circular balcony of the Rotunda’s domed atrium has been closed to visitors but now it will be re-energised as the elegant new café and bar for Tate Members. The original Grand Saloon is is a light-filled space overlooking the Thames and has been created for seminars and events
In order to celebrate the transformation of the gallery, three contemporary artists have produced site-specific work. Richard Wright will design handmade glass and leading for the eastern window in the Millbank foyer; Alan Johnston will create a ceiling drawing for the Djanogly café and Nicole Wermers will create a tea and coffee spoon for use in the café and for sale in the shop.
Tate also invited invited Fashion photographer Miles Aldridge to create a series of photographic prints, influenced by art. The artist chose Mark Gertler’s painting Merry-Go-Round, from 1916. The original work was painted during World War I and represents rigid figures, seemingly trapped on an endlessly-revolving carousel. Aldridge’s response details the intense colours and dream-like nature of the first, adding a layer of sexuality.
The new Tate Britain is unveiled on 19 November 2013, for the full details visit www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-britain/meet-tate-britain
1. Video courtesy of YouTube and Tate Britain.