This month has seen the opening of the much-anticipated Switch House, the 10-storey extension to the tourist powerhouse that is the Tate Modern. The extension, designed by original conversion designers Herzog & de Meuron, adds 60 per cent more exhibition space to the gallery, which since 2000 has undoubtedly become one of London’s most important cultural attractions not to mention the largest space for modern and contemporary art in the world.
Sixteen years after the original Tate Modern opened to the public, much has changed in art practice, and also the way in which the public engages with art. The revamped Tate Modern ‘will redefine the museum for the 21st century’, presenting an increasingly international view of modern and contemporary art befitting of London as an international centre of contemporary art and culture.
Equally as important for the designers and for the Tate Modern was to create more social space for visitors. The top floor of the new extension offers a 360 degree public viewing terrace and a brand new restaurant, both with unique views over the river onto St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Much is owed to Tate Modern’s new director Frances Morris and her team who have curated a beautifully chronological and equally global stroll through modern art in Switch House. Not only is artwork by female artists as prominent as those by their male counterparts, but also there is a noticeable shift to artwork from ethnic minorities and exhibits drawn from Latin America and the Pacific Rim. There is also a preponderance of photographic artworks and more importantly, suitable space for interactive, contemporary performance, installation and video art. All of this in the same space as masterpieces by Picasso and Monet as well as contemporary greats such as Bridget Riley, Agnes Martin and Louise Bourgeois.
The Switch House extension is certainly an enlightened approach to artistic presentation and a home for the future of art and enjoyment of art. For those of you who haven’t yet experienced this dazzling addition to London’s foremost cultural space, Tate Modern opens an exhibition of pioneering American artist Georgia O’Keeffe from 6 July 2016. http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/new-tate-modern/building