On the 11th of May, 2000, the Tate Modern opened its doors for the first time. Today it observes 20 years of service to the contemporary art scene. The celebrations maybe muted during these difficult times, but that should not take away from the exemplary work the institution has provided to the art loving public.
In the last 20 years the Tate Modern has seen nearly 100 million visitors pass through its doors to view work from Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso. We have even seen a Star Wars film premiere of the spin-off movie, Rogue One.
The gallery was opened by Queen Elizabeth just over three months after the turn of the millennium to a roaring start. 5.25 million visitors attended the gallery in its first year, which was more than double the combined attendance for the other three Tate galleries.
The building itself is the former Bankside power station which was on the brink of demolition before the Tate proposed using the site for a new gallery. The initial development proved so successful it underwent a £260 million extension project which opened in 2016. The project included renovating three underground oil tanks, formally used by the power station, to be used for live perfromance art and installations. A ten storey tower was constructed above the oil tanks, originally named Switch House, now named Blavatnik Building, after wealthy benefactor, Sir Leonard Blavatnik.
Before the corona virus derailed daily life, the Tate Modern had planned a special program of displays and performances to run on the 11th of May. This included a year long exhibition dedicated to Yayoi Kusama and her Infinity Mirrored Room installations, and the return of Louise Bourgeois’s spider Maman. These exhibitions have been postponed and we hope we will get to see them when life returns to relative normality.
We hope the Tate Modern is back to what it does best very soon. That is, delivering masterful and bleeding edge contemporary art to the visitors and residents of London. At ARTraiders we are certainly looking forward to it, happy birthday Tate Modern.