Monday, November 13, 2006

Tate Modern - London

 Tate Modern from seen from the middle of Millennium Bridge

This photo of The Tate Modern in London is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of London. There are over 100 images taken from around London linked to an interactive map.

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The Tate Modern is the latest addition to The Tate group of galleries located within Britain and also online. The Tate Modern, opened in May of 2000, is the national museum of international modern art, and therefore modern both in terms of the use of the building and the collection it contains. Situated on the Thames and linked St. Paul’s Cathedral via the Millennium Bridge, the Tate Modern has quickly won favour both with Londoners and visitors to London.

From the very outset as you approach the Tate Modern, especially across the Millennium Bridge, it is clear that this building was not originally designed as an art gallery or museum. The 200m long building is almost featureless except for a 90m high chimney stack placed half way along. In a former life this was the Bankside Power Station, built in 1947 and closed in 1981 when the price of oil made it too uneconomical to run. Eventually after nearly 20 years of dereliction a new use for the building was secured and the Tate Modern was born. The conversion started in 1995, taking 5 years and £134 million to complete.

One of the most striking features of the Tate Modern is the huge Turbine Hall, which at 152m long and 35m high makes it one of the largest spaces in which to display art in the world. Parallel to this space ran the boiler house which has now been converted to hold the galleries or ‘suites’ as the Tate Modern like to call them. There are 2 floors with permanent exhibits, while temporary works are displayed on the third floor. Above these the Tate houses a café-restaurant with truly stunning views over the rest of London. The top of the Tate Modern’s chimney is capped with a luminous roof called the Swiss Light and sponsored by the government of Switzerland. At night time this light makes the Tate Modern clearly visible for many miles.

The Turbine Hall has seen some fantastic large sculptures since 2000, Almost always these installations have caused lively debate and attracted huge numbers of visitors, form the Unilever Series by Rachel Whitehead (nick named the Tate sugar cubes) to the current slides created by Carsten Höller. If anyone said the modern art could not be fun, then surely a visit to the Tate Modern at the moment would address that, though the question of ‘Is it art?’ may not be easy to answer.

The opening of the Tate Modern has helped to revitalize the South Bank. It is linked to the Tate Britain by a distinctive river ferry decorated in bright coloured spots. The Tate Modern is also close to quite a number of other attractions in the area including St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Oxo Tower. Situated about half way between the London Eye and the Tower of London (and Tower Bridge) the Tate Modern is well worth including in any London itinerary.

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The full panoramic image taken of the Tate Modern in London can be found on the London tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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