Art lovers rejoice there is a new soaring building in town to inspire the pants off you. Five years in the making the Tate Modern’s new 10-storey Switch House has opened to much hype. Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron originally designed the conversion of the Tate Modern from the Bankside Power Station. Their twisted pyramid-shaped extension has become another impressive visual marker on the London skyline.
The launch could not have been more timely. The start of the school summer holidays makes this a perfect day out to explore with your inquisitive mini explorers. Here are my five reasons why it has to be on your go-to list this summer with or without kids.
1. Arts galore
The new building increases the size of the Tate Modern by 60 per cent and contains over 800 works by over 300 artists. Such is the buildings impact that it’s being lauded ‘as the most important cultural building to open in the UK since the British Library’. Plus it’s the first gallery space in the world ‘dedicated to live art, film and installations’.
The primary role of any gallery or museum is to educate and engage. They’ve always felt like like super large classrooms to me, filled with things to explore and inspire.
Ai Weiwei’s 2010 ‘Tree’ made from numerous dry branches, roots and trunks from different species of trees gathered by the artist from his native China sparked a river of questions from my four year old. Somehow the abundance ‘why?’ questions are not as annoying when uttered in a gallery. I think you’re just bloody grateful they’re taking an interest.
And where else would you be able to explore a large floor-based rubber map of Beirut – ‘Beirut Caoutchouc 2004-2008’, an installation by Marwan Rechmaoui.
Or have alone time for some quiet contemplation.
2. It’s FREE!
In this current economic climate, we’re all watching our pennies. No need to with the Tate. Apart from a select few exhibits, much of the gallery is free to visitors.
Like the sculptures from American pop artist Robert Indiana.
There are times when the installations can cause problems. For example when you can’t tear your child (or an adult) from a room. Who knew the captivating qualities of a shadow.
Kids get open access to some of the greatest and freshest art there is. The collection displays are free for everyone and if you do fancy an exhibition under 12’s go free.
3. Space to enjoy
The classic parent broken record of ‘be quiet’ or ‘behave’ can be left at the door. There is so much to do and see that these problems very quickly evaporate – Hallelujah! Plus all kids should experience running through the Turbine Hall at least once.
Peek-a-boo is also a museum classic.
As well as writing on the wall.
On the fourth floor a new steel bridge provides an amazing view down across the Turbine Hall and connects the Switch House to the original Boiler House .
The vast concrete space is staggeringly beautiful and at times and makes you feel like a small but significant dot in an ocean of imagination and ingenuity.
4. Glorious views
Ten floors of art is finished off with an amazing viewing platform. Housing a little café, you can take in magnificent views of the capital with a cup of tea and blueberry muffin in hand. The best free 360 degree high art in London! You can find a new restaurant and a members club at the heady heights too.
The only problem is the time it takes to enter the lifts heading up to the lofty space. With an unprecedented numbers of visitors trying to squeeze into the lifts to see the breathtaking London landscape you will either a) lose patience watching packed lifts going past you or b) turn into an art installation yourself from sheer frustration.
I suggest c) no matter which floor you’re on head to Level 0 that way you are eventually guaranteed entry. We only had this epiphany after five minutes of huffing, puffing and tutting.
5. Support the arts
Yes, museums are free but to stay free for the masses they all need financial support to keep their doors open.
We are extremely lucky to have these incredible places where you can nurture your thoughts, expand your mind, think out of the box, where there is no wrong answer and every idea counts.
If you want them to be around for decades to come for future generations – make a donation. Even if it’s paying the recommended £1 for the visitor guide. Every little helps.
Tate Modern | Bankside | London | SE1 9TG
Do you have a favourite museum or gallery? Which places inspire you? Let me know in the comments below or at:
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