Tate Modern Museum has one of the best modern and contemporary art collections in the world. The museum, which is also much spoken with its extraordinary architecture, is among the most visited museums in the world with its exhaustive exhibitions and extraordinary experience it offers to its visitors. Let’s take a look at the innovative approaches offered by this significant museum located in Bankside, London.
A short history of its background…
The collection, which was donated to the National Gallery by the industrialist Henry Tate, was containing the most valuable artworks by British artists, was not accepted at the time because there was not enough space at the National Gallery, but different venue alternatives were started to be sought. In 1897, the National Gallery and Henry Tate Collection commence being exhibited together at the building located in Millbank, known today as Tate Britain, which is opened with a generous donation by Henry Tate. Thirty-five years after the opening of the gallery, it officially took the name of Tate in 1932, and became completely independent in 1955 and continued to grow.
Tate Gallery and Museums
Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, and Tate St. Each of Ives, museums and art galleries takes viewers on a journey through different time zones. Each of the four museums in four different locations is named according to its place, its collection, and the exhibitions it offers to the audience. The most valuable works of British art are on display at Tate Britain, which is the first museum that met the audience in 1897 at Millbank. After the first museum, Tate Liverpool is opened which addresses the younger audience with its British and international contemporary and modern art collection and organizes active educational programs, offers an alternative experience to art lovers. Opened in 1993 and renovated in 2017, St. Ives Gallery hosts artists who are living, have lived or produced their artworks in this small city. Finally, Tate Modern, which met the audience in 2000, is a must-visit place of art lovers in London with its new enormous building added in 2016 and its growing new collection.
Tate Modern: Extraordinary Architecture and Memorable Experiences
The Tate Modern Museum is one of the most spoken, visited and admirable structures of London with its architecture as well as the world’s most important artworks in its collection. The building, which was used as a power station until 1981, located at the side of the Thames River, has been restored by the famous Swedish architectural design company Herzog & De Meuron and promises a unique museum experience with its splendid new extension building. While the old rectangular structure of the building, which is two hundred meters long, was restored and met with the audience for the first time in 2000, the museum, which constructed with its new pyramid architecture added in 2016, offers visitors the opportunity to experience artworks from many different disciplines. Today, museum architecture is divided into three main sections; Turbine Hall, Natalie Bell Building and Blavatnik Building. While the renewed Turbine Hall and Natalie Bell Building are located within the same building, the galleries in the Blavatnik building, which were added later, are connected to the galleries of Natalie Bell building by a bridge.
Must-see areas of the museum…
The Turbine Hall
The Turbine Hall, which is known as the heart of the Tate Modern Museum, extends along with the Natalie Bell building, connects Natalie Bell and Blavatnik buildings with the twenty-five-meter long bridge on the west wing, and is breathtaking with its space and worldwide exhibitions. The hall, where power generators used to be present, bears traces of the past with its brick walls, high windows and a ceiling height of 35 meters. The artists exhibited at the hall are commissioned to create site-specific works, large-scale sculptures, performances, and interactive installations, and the exhibitions at the hall attract a lot of attention and are extraordinary with the integrity of the space.
Blavatnik Building, formerly the Switch House
In this building, which fascinates the visitors with its extraordinary structure, contemporary artworks after the 1960s are exhibited. With the eleven-stories, the rotating pyramid-shaped building added to the museum by Herzog & de Meuron in 2016, the exhibition areas of the museum increased by sixty percent. While the brick covering used on the exteriors and interiors of the building maintains the historical traces of the old main building, it also allows liberal and innovative approaches for the curatorial practice by considering the space and light. The extension building, which is opened in 2016 with the name, Switch House, was renamed after a generous donation of Russian-British billionaire Leonard Blavatnik as Blavatnik Building in 2017.
Tanks are located under the area where the Blavatnik Building is today. When viewed from above, Tanks have a structure similar to a cloverleaf and located nine meters below the ground, are among the most interesting gallery areas of the museum. While three large cylinder tanks were used as oil tanks while the building used as a power station, they were transformed into a gallery place by the Herzog & de Meuron. For the first time in a museum, a specific area is dedicated to art for live performances, installations and film screenings. Risen from the Tanks to the sky, from the terrace on the top floor of the Blavatnik Building which is open everyone, Thames River, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Canary Wharf, and Wembley Stadium can be viewed.
Tate Modern’s 2024 Must-See Exhibitions
CAPTURING THE MOMENT
UNTIL 28 APRIL 2024
Andy Warhol Self Portrait 1966–1967 YAGEO Foundation Collection, Taiwan © 2023 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by DACS, London.
A journey through painting and photography
The arrival of photography changed the course of painting forever. In this unique exhibition, we explore the dynamic relationship between the two mediums through some of the most iconic artworks of recent times.
From the expressive paintings of Pablo Picasso and Paula Rego, to striking photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Jeff Wall, you will see how these two distinct mediums have shaped each other over time.
You will also discover how artists have blurred the boundaries between painting and photography, creating new and exciting forms of art, such as Pauline Boty’s pop paintings, Andy Warhol’s silkscreen prints, the photorealist works of Gerhard Richter, or Andreas Gursky’s large-scale panoramic photographs.
In an open-ended conversation between some of the greatest painters and photographers of the modern era, we explore how the brush and the lens have been used to capture moments in time.
YAYOI KUSAMA: INFINITY MIRROR ROOMS
UNTIL 28 APRIL 2024
Step into infinite space
Tate presents a rare chance to experience two of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms. These immersive installations will transport you into Kusama’s unique vision of endless reflections.
Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life is one of Kusama’s largest installations to date and was made for her 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern. It is shown alongside Chandelier of Grief, a room which creates the illusion of a boundless universe of rotating crystal chandeliers.
A small presentation of photographs and moving image – some on display for the first time – provides historical context for the global phenomenon that Kusama’s mirrored rooms have become today.
Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama came to international attention in 1960s New York for a wide-ranging creative practice that has encompassed installation, painting, sculpture, fashion design and writing. Since the 1970s she has lived in Tokyo, where she continues to work prolifically and to international acclaim.
BOB AND ROBERTA SMITH: THAMESMEAD CODEX
UNTIL MAY 2024
Thamesmead Codex celebrates the voices and local community of Thamesmead, London
From 2019–2020, artist Bob and Roberta Smith interviewed people who live in Thamesmead, southeast London. Built in 1968 to alleviate London’s housing shortage, Thamesmead was one of many modernist large-scale housing projects constructed across Europe after the Second World War. Smith talked to a number of local residents, from some of its very first occupants to young people growing up during the Covid-19 pandemic. He then turned their conversations into the 24 painted placards you can see here. Reflecting on the work, Smith said ‘I thought I was making a painting about a housing estate, but actually I’ve been painting about the desire to be heard.’
‘Codex’, from the title Thamesmead Codex, is an ancient term for a manuscript or book. Here, the artist presents a modern-day version. The work documents the histories and identities of Thamesmead and its communities. It records memories from the past, and hopes for a post-Covid future. Alongside this record of people’s thoughts and experiences, Smith includes vivid and futuristic landscape scenes much like illustrated pages of a codex.
Bob and Roberta Smith (whose real name is Patrick Brill) brings together sign writing, activism and discarded materials. Talking about his practice, he says he sees ‘art as an important element in democratic life.’
YOKO ONO: MUSIC OF THE MIND
15 FEBRUARY – 1 SEPTEMBER 2024
Delve into the powerful, participatory work of artist and activist Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono is a leading figure in conceptual and performance art, experimental film and music. Developing her practice in America, Japan and the UK, she is renowned for her activism, work for world peace, and environmental campaigns. Ideas are central to her art, often expressed in poetic, humorous and radical ways.
Spanning more than seven decades, the exhibition focuses on key moments in Ono’s career, including her years in London from 1966 to 1971, where she met John Lennon. The show explores some of Ono’s most talked about artworks and performances, from Cut Piece (1964), where people were invited to cut off her clothing, to her banned Film No.4 (Bottoms) (1966-67) which she created as a ‘petition for peace’.
Alongside her early performances, works on paper, objects, and music, audiences will discover a selection of her activist projects such as PEACE is POWER and Wish Tree, where visitors can contribute personal wishes for peace. Through her instructions and event scores, Ono invites visitors to take part in both simple acts of the imagination and active encounters with her works.
6 JUNE 2024 – 26 JANUARY 2025
A major UK survey of visual activist Zanele Muholi
Zanele Muholi is one of the most acclaimed photographers working today, and their work has been exhibited all over the world. With over 260 photographs, this exhibition presents the full breadth of their career to date. Muholi describes themself as a visual activist. From the early 2000s, they have documented and celebrated the lives of South Africa’s Black lesbian, gay, trans, queer and intersex communities.
In the early series Only Half the Picture, Muholi captures moments of love and intimacy as well as intense images alluding to traumatic events – despite the equality promised by South Africa’s 1996 constitution, its LGBTQIA+ community remains a target for violence and prejudice. In Faces and Phases each participant looks directly at the camera, challenging the viewer to hold their gaze. These images and the accompanying testimonies form a growing archive of a community of people who are risking their lives by living authentically in the face of oppression and discrimination.
Other key series of works, include Brave Beauties, which celebrates empowered non-binary people and trans women, many of whom have won Miss Gay Beauty pageants, and Being, a series of tender images of couples which challenge stereotypes and taboos. Muholi turns the camera on themself in the ongoing series Somnyama Ngonyama – translated as ‘Hail the Dark Lioness’. These powerful and reflective images explore themes including labour, racism, Eurocentrism and sexual politics.
The exhibition is based on the artist’s 2020-21 exhibition at Tate Modern and will include new works produced since then.
27 JUNE 2024 – 27 APRIL 2025
Discover the immersive works of artist Anthony McCall
In Summer 2024, Tate Modern will present a focused exhibition of immersive works by English-born, US-based artist Anthony McCall. Occupying a space between sculpture, cinema and drawing, McCall is known for his ‘solid-light’ installations that began in 1973 with the seminal work Line Describing a Cone, a key work in Tate’s collection.
In the exhibition, visitors will be able to enter and explore the large-scale sculptural forms which the artist creates from a thin mist and slowly evolving planes of projected light.
MIKE KELLEY: GHOST AND SPIRIT
2 OCTOBER 2024 – 9 MARCH 2025
The first major UK exhibition of American artist Mike Kelley
Discover the elaborate, provocative and imaginary worlds created by experimental artist Mike Kelley. From the late 1970s to 2012, Kelley made a diverse body of work using drawing, collage, performance, found objects, and video. Spanning Kelley’s entire career, the exhibition features his breakthrough ‘craft’ sculptures made from textile and plush toys through to his multi-media installations such as Day Is Done.
Drawing on references from popular and underground culture, literature, and philosophy, Kelley explores how the roles we play in society are entangled with historical fact and imaginary characters from the films and images we consume. Over a decade since his passing, Kelley’s reflections on identity and memory continue to resonate.
Cover Photo: ramboll.com