In February 2011, Tate will begin an exciting project to transform the original Tate Gallery, rededicated in 2001 as Tate Britain. This project aims to conserve the beautiful fabric of Sidney Smith’s 19th-Century building and carry out a major upgrade to the galleries, enabling Tate to show more of its Collection in conditions suitable for a wider range of art media. The project will remodel and renovate core visitor areas – opening up the stunning domed atrium at the heart of the gallery – while creating much-needed learning studios and public spaces in order to meet growing demand. This phase of Tate Britain’s development will span 2010 to 2013 and is budgeted at £45 million, almost two thirds of which has been raised already.
The project is designed to meet several key objectives:
To increase capacity and improve conditions for the display of art
Nine galleries in the southern and oldest part of Tate Britain will be reconstructed to 21st-century standards with completely new walls, roofs and floors. Gallery floors will be reinforced to hold larger sculptural works, and temperature and humidity controls will be improved through better insulation and ventilation, improving display conditions and allowing greater curatorial flexibility. New galleries will also be created in and around the space formerly housing the shop, which will be relocated to the South West quadrant of the building.
To transform the main entrance and Rotunda
The magnificent entrance on Millbank will be re-established as the public face of Tate Britain. The domed atrium at the entrance of the gallery will be opened up with a striking new spiral staircase that leads down to the lower level. The staircase will create a focal point and improve visitor orientation and circulation. The stunning circular balcony of the Rotunda dome – closed to visitors since the 1920s – will be reopened via a new lift and staircase as an area for Tate Members.
To place learning at the heart of the organisation
New purpose-built learning spaces around the gallery will be developed with easy and direct access to art. A dedicated schools’ entrance and reception will be created underneath the Millbank entrance steps. The reception will provide entrance and exit from the front landscape, and have a lunchroom capacity for 130 children. In addition, a beautiful room overlooking the river Thames above the Millbank entrance will host a wide range of seminars, public events and learning programmes.
To transform the visitor experience
Visitor figures at Tate Britain have risen by 60% over the past 10 years, placing high demand on the public spaces and facilities around the building. A new café will therefore be created on the ground floor at the front of the gallery, leading onto a new external terrace. As well as opening up the spaces around, above and below the Rotunda, the shop will also be relocated and upgraded to further improve layout and ease visitor flow.
Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2011 and is scheduled to complete in 2013. The project architects are Caruso St John, structural engineers Alan Baxter Associates, services engineers Maxfordham Partners, cost consultants Turner and Townsend, and project managers Drivers Jonas Deloitte.