Few would accuse the Tate Modern as an institution that looks backwards, but the iconic London landmark and beloved mandatory field trip destination of art students across the country, is looking to engage with its forward-thinking ethos on an even deeper level.
Fountain, by Marcel Duchamp, 1917, replica 1964
We're referring to an ambitious, £260 million refurbishment plan for the Tate, which includes the development of a brand new, 10 storey building at the site. The refurbishment will see the Tate Modern experience become a more digital affair, with new touchscreen displays, interactive areas and a way-finding app that aims to help visitors raised with technology engage with art in a manner that's more natural and approachable to them.
Original Peter Saville Visual
In the new building, three floors will be dedicated to galleries, whilst the others will be dedicated to educational purposes, events, restaurants, shops, a viewing platform, and even a cinema for film screenings. The building is being created by architect Herzog & de Meuron, with interior design elements including furniture by Jasper Morrison. The new Tate Modern app, meanwhile, which has been developed alongside the new building, aims to help visitors find navigate the museum and find art they want to see, according to Tate Director, Nicholas Serota. It will also provide information on art, artists and movements featured within the galleries. Content from Tate’s digital archive, such as interviews with the museum’s artists and curators, will also be available through the app.
“The physical and digital transformation of the museum aims to encourage collaboration, participation and conversation between visitors and curators” Tate Director, Frances Morris
The extensive digital makeover doesn't just relate to the app of course. Interactive spaces will also be placed within the new building to enable visitors to explore the context of collections. These “Explore” spaces will include digital displays that allow visitors to find out more about the Tate’s collections, and overarching themes of the displays. A 6.5m long interactive digital timeline will also be installed, which will present a constantly changing display of more than 3,500 artworks by 750 artists, with information on art movements and imagery.
Tree, by Ai Weiwei, 2015
These new digital installations are part of the Bloomberg Connects project; Tate Modern’s partnership with digital arts programme Bloomberg Philanthropies. The partnership has already seen the creation of several digital elements put in place by Jason Bruges Studio in 2012. These include Make Your Mark, a digital conversation wall composed of screens, a Drawing Bar allowing people to create artwork on digital sketchpads that is then projected onto walls, and the introduction of hand-held digital tours, and weekly film screenings.
Untitled, by Malangatana Ngwenya, 1967
Accompanying the digital updates will be a series of visuals, designed by Peter Saville, which will be used alongside the Tate Modern’s branding in digital and print applications. North Design has also created a series of posters and typographic material for the June 17 opening. Both designers’ work aims to bring the Tate together as a whole, and reveal the evolution of the Tate brand.
“We want to offer a better experience for those who do come, rather than seek more visitors” Tate Director, Nicholas Serota
One thing the Tate Modern won't be updating significantly, however, is its branding, as Serota feels there's simply no need for one. Even without a rebrand, it's estimated that the new Tate will see roughly 5.5 million visitors yearly, half a million more than it currently gets.