Press Release

First phase of new Tate Modern building to open in 2012

Press release announcing that the first phase of the new development of Tate Modern will open in the summer of 2012

The first phase of the new development of Tate Modern will open in the summer of 2012, Tate’s Trustees announced today. The launch will be part of the London 2012 Festival which will be the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad.

Phase 1 of the development includes the opening of the former power station’s spectacular Oil Tanks – enormous circular spaces over thirty metres across and seven metres high. These massive industrial chambers have lain unused since the power station was decommissioned. They are now being transformed into what promise to be some of the most exciting new spaces for art in the world. A further series of neighbouring galleries will provide a range of new spaces for works from the Tate Collection, including two raw concrete galleries and a unique steel-lined gallery. The Oil Tanks will also act as innovative social and learning spaces, as well as being equipped for a diverse programme of live performances and events, including a crush bar and full back of house facilities.

The opportunity to complete the first phase of the building has been made possible by a number of major donations to the campaign which, together, have raised 70% of the total capital costs of £215 million. At this stage, the donors wish to remain anonymous.

The new Oil Tank spaces will be dedicated to showing the rich variety of art in live form. The East Tank will provide the opportunity to showcase major new installations, and will be expanded and complemented by the South Tank programme that includes film, performance, sound and discussions. Providing an anchor for these activities, which have previously been presented in diverse spaces around Tate Modern, the Oil Tanks will allow the public to explore the history of these practices through the latter half of the twentieth century and see bold new work being developed by artists today. The full programme for the Oil Tanks will be announced in early 2012.

Phase 2 of the new development, which is planned to open at the latest in 2016, will complete the building and provide further floors of galleries. In total, the project will create 70% more space for displaying works from Tate’s Collection and programme. Over the last ten years, the Collection has not only grown considerably in size, but also developed to reflect broader changes in contemporary art. Film, photography and live performance have become essential strands of artistic practice, and artists have continued to embrace new technologies. At the same time, the Collection has taken a more global perspective, encompassing work from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa.


Lord Browne, Chairman of the Trustees, Tate said:

Tate’s Trustees have great pleasure in announcing that Phase 1 of the new development of Tate Modern will open next summer when London will be the focus of worldwide attention for the London 2012 Olympic Games. This is an important moment. It starts with the Olympics but will build momentum beyond. Once completed, the new Tate Modern will represent the most important new building for a national arts organisation in the UK since the creation of the British Library in 1998. Tate Modern is already the most popular modern art museum in the world – our aim is to make it better still.

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate said:

Tate Modern is responding to changing forms of art and to the changing expectations of visitors. The new building will allow us to show more of our Collection, while the Oil Tanks promise to be some of the most exciting spaces for new art in the world. We are immensely grateful to our generous donors for their support which brings us within striking distance of our target for the campaign, one of the largest ever in the cultural field.

Chris Dercon, Director, Tate Modern said:

The Oil Tanks will give visitors a new way to explore and experience art at Tate Modern. Architecturally they are fantastic raw spaces, which are being carefully converted for public use without losing any of their unique industrial character. These spaces can better accommodate our evolving live art programme than the traditional white box of the gallery. They will provide us with a dedicated home for the latest developments in art practice and research, and reflect the evolving way the gallery is used by artists, curators and the public.

Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary said:

It is incredibly good news that such a unique and exciting new attraction will be opening next year.  The Oil Tanks will be like no other art space in the world and it is inspiring that so much has been made possible through the generosity of others. I would like to thank all those who have made it possible for the Tate to fulfil its vision and reaffirm its place among the world’s greatest galleries.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival said:

It is very exciting that the new development of Tate Modern, the world’s most visited modern art gallery, will open during the London 2012 Festival which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. The Oil Tank spaces will provide a wonderful inspiration to artists from all over the world and help London retain its pre eminence in the visual arts internationally.

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council said:

I am delighted that the Oil Tanks will open next summer. The Tate Modern Project will have a significant impact on the regeneration of Bankside and will contribute to the further regeneration of Southwark in general.

See also

  • Project

    The Tate Modern Project

    A new development project to the south of the existing building which will transform Tate Modern.

About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements.  Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.

The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, bringing leading artists from all over the world together from 21 June 2012 in this UK-wide festival – a chance for everyone to celebrate London 2012 through dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation.

Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor.  BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.

For more details visit