Tate Britain Receives Significant Donations For Improvements

Tate Britain has raised £45m to complete a major planned renovation of several galleries. Nine of the building’s display rooms are being refurbished, as is the entrance and other public spaces. The target was finally reached thanks to a £3m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £1m given by Tate Members. The other £41m has been donated by private benefactors. The galleries will open in May 2013, to be followed by new visitor facilities and education rooms. The collection houses the museum group’s British art collection which will be re-hung to reflect a new chronological display in the renovated galleries.

The galleries will have “much improved illumination”, mainly thanks to increased natural lighting, while the reception will be moved from the rotunda to its original position in the foyer. Donors to the project include oil trader Ian Taylor and the Sainsbury family and philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield, daughter of tycoon Charles Clore. Money has also been provided from the estates of business figures including Sir Isaac Wolfson, Sir John Paul Getty, Sir Siegmund Warburg and Willard Garfield Weston.

Tate Britain director Penelope Curtis said the building’s architecture and art collection would “enhance each other in a way which I hope and believe will reward our many supporters”. Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said: “I am extremely grateful to all the donors, foundations and the Heritage Lottery Fund who have helped us reach our funding target. “This project provides a much needed upgrade to Tate Britain and will hugely improve both the galleries and facilities for our visitors.”

The Tate first opened its doors to the public in 1897 it had just one site, displaying a small collection of British artworks. Today Tate has four major sites and the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day and international modern and contemporary art, which includes nearly 70,000 artworks. A number of new developments are planned for Tate Modern, Tate Britain  and Tate St Ives to ensure the galleries continue to expand. In 1889 Henry Tate, an industrialist who had made his fortune as a sugar refiner, offered his collection of British art to the nation. There was no space for it in the National Gallery and the creation of a new gallery dedicated to British art was seen as a worthwhile aim and the search for a suitable site began. This gallery would house not only Henry Tate’s gift but also the works of British artists from various other collections.

Tate Britain was opened in 1897 and it is visited by around 1.5 million people every year. Photo: ©ArtLyst 2010

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