At a press conference on 17 September on the publication of its Annual Report 2008/9 and presentation of its future programme, Tate announced that the year was the most successful on record for acquisitions to the Tate Collection. It also announced an increased focus on working with regional and international partners with a record number of loans to other organisations, transforming the way Tate shares and exhibits the national Collection both in the UK and abroad.
The total value of works acquired for the Collection in 2008/9 is £96.7 million. Thanks to the exceptional generosity of artists and collectors, gifts and bequests worth in excess of £64 million entered the Collection. This includes half the value of the donated element of the ARTIST ROOMS collection, now owned jointly by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland, thanks to the remarkable generosity of Anthony d’Offay, and purchased with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and The Art Fund.
589 works were solely acquired by Tate this year and 1,126 works, including 421 Beuys posters, were acquired as part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection. This is the highest number of works to enter the Collection in a single year in Tate’s history.
Many important pieces were donated to Tate in 2008/9 by artists. Among them were Tacita Dean’s seminal film work, Michael Hamburger 2007, screenprints by Michael Craig-Martin, works on paper by Gary Hume and Robert Frank’s contact sheets from the Americans 1955-6. David Hockney gifted his largest work to date, the magnificent painting Bigger Trees near Warter 2007, presented to Tate in 2008 and formally accessioned this year. Adding to this, two major early paintings by Hockney, Study for Doll Boy 1960 and The Berliner and the Bavarian 1962, were acquired in lieu of tax.
A landmark acquisition for the historic British collection was Peter Paul Rubens’s The Apotheosis of James I and other Studies for the Banqueting House Ceiling, Whitehall c1628–30, purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Tate Members, The Art Fund and private donors. This is the first work by Rubens to enter the Collection. Another notable historic gift was the exquisite landscape, Dew Drenched Furze 1889–90, by John Everett Millais, donated by Sir Geoffroy Millais.
Of the works solely acquired by Tate, 152 are by British artists and 437 are by foreign artists, including 198 prints gifted by Léon Ferrari and 117 prints from Akram Zatari. Significant pieces were acquired from Latin America, the Asia Pacific region, Russia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, demonstrating Tate’s commitment to expanding its representation of artists from around the world. Of the works acquired as part of ARTIST ROOMS, 27 are by British artists and 678 are by foreign artists with 421 posters by Beuys.
Nicholas Serota, Director Tate said: ‘It is remarkable that, despite the current economic climate, the spirit of philanthropy remains undiminished. Tate has been extremely fortunate to benefit from many exceptional gifts over the past year. We must make sure that our current visitors and future generations gain from the richness of the legacy that this generosity provides.’
This year Tate toured 26 of its exhibitions to 35 international venues. Works from the Collection were loaned to 117 venues in the UK, twice the number of venues in this country to be loaned works than ten years ago. Tate also loaned works to 144 venues outside the UK. This reveals a record number of loans from Tate in a single year, 1,031, to a record number of venues, 261, giving an ever growing global audience the chance to experience the Collection beyond well-travelled routes. One of the highlights was Tate’s JMW Turner exhibition which went to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) in Beijing.
2008/9 has been a year in which Tate has forged new and pioneering partnerships. Without precedent is the tour of ARTIST ROOMS, which is supported by The Art Fund and, in Scotland, by the Scottish Government, which has brought outstanding works from the d’Offay collection to audiences at 13 partner venues across the UK. Tate Connects was also launched this year with the aim of contributing to the visual arts across the UK by establishing a network to support public programmes, the visual arts workforce, artists and audience development. Ten five-year partnerships with galleries have been agreed so far. The Great British Art Debate project, bringing together three regional partners to share works of art and generate interest in what British art means to the public, has also had a successful inaugural year and through Tate Connects, with the support of Arts Council England, we will partner with six organisations in England to fund the production of short, visual arts films and share expertise.
Other major achievements of the year include:
• The new development of Tate Modern has moved ahead successfully, a third of the funding has been achieved and the revised designs by Herzog & de Meuron won planning consent in March
• Designs by architects Caruso St John to improve the galleries and visitor services at Tate Britain progressed significantly and details of the project will be announced later in the year.
• Tate Liverpool’s twentieth birthday year was its most successful ever. The gallery welcomed more than one million visitors for the first time, confirming its status as one of the most influential regional galleries in Europe.
• Tate Online is now the leading museum website in the UK with 18 million visits in the last year. The Tate Kids site won a Webby award was named Best Educational Website at the 2009 Museums and the Web international awards. Tate also become the first cultural partner in the UK to join forces with Google for Google Maps Street View and Tate’s audio and video downloads were made available for free on Apple’s iTunes U.
• Tate St Ives’ profile in the UK and internationally has also grown. Ben Nicholson travelled to Abbott Hall, Cumbria and De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea, and Heimo Zobernig to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Modern Art Centre in Lisbon. Plans for the future development of Tate St Ives also moved forward.
• A successful exhibition programme, including Rothko at Tate Modern (327,244 visitors) and Francis Bacon at Tate Britain (237,505 visitors), among the most popular Tate exhibitions ever. The Gustav Klimt exhibition was seen by 200,000 people making it the most popular exhibition in Tate Liverpool’s history.
• Three Tate Research Centres devoted to the study of British Romanticism, Rethinking Modernism and The Artist Colony, were founded this year.