Museum’s Expansion Devotes Much More Space for Women Artists

June 19, 2016, 9:00 PM UTC
The Tate Modern Launch Their Highly Anticipated Extension The Switch House
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: A visitor refers to a brochure next to 'Pavilion Suspended in a Room' by Cristina Iglesias at the Tate Modern's new Switch House on June 14, 2016 in London, England. The Tate Modern art gallery unveils its new Switch House building today designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Photography by Jack Taylor Getty Images

The Tate Modern extension opened its doors Friday in London to reveal galleries filled with more art by women.

The museum has touted the opening of the Switch House addition as a renewal for the entire modern art gallery because the collection has more work from international and female artists, who are generally underrepresented in museum collections. The 12-year expansion project added 60% more gallery space to the modern art museum in the form of a 10-story “twisted pyramid” building by architects Herzog & de Meuron.

“Today we open not just an extension but genuinely a new Tate Modern with a new configuration, new facilities, new learning spaces and a new view of the world as it has been over the last 120 years or so,” Tate director Nicholas Serota said in remarks reported by the Guardian.

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The museum added the extension to the Tate Modern’s original building, a converted brick power station that opened in 2000, because the museum was attracting roughly five million visitors per year when it had only expected 2 million. At the time, women made up 17% of the artists in the collection. In the new Switch House, female artists make up 36% of the total—with over half the solo artist rooms dedicated to females.

Tate Modern is also reopening with greater international representation, housing works from about 50 countries. The museum, for example, has promoted its acquisition of the striking work “Tree” by prominent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei:

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We're delighted to reveal our most recent acquisition, Ai Weiwei’s (@aiww) 'Tree 2010', on display in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Watch our team installing it.
Tree 2010 is made from numerous dry branches, roots and trunks from different species of trees that the artist gathered from across his native China. Although it mimics the form of a real tree, the visible joins make it apparent that it has been made by piecing together individual elements.
Tree celebrates the Chinese custom of displaying distinctive tree trunks and curiously shaped roots as home decorations. The dry and ‘dead’ tree sections that Tree is made from also draw attention to the country’s rapid urbanisation and economic growth, which have resulted in damage to the natural environment and the suppression of traditional culture.
View this monumental sculpture in the new #TateModern opening tomorrow.
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Though female artists have become more prominent within the field in the years since Tate Modern first opened, director Frances Morris said they still don’t get enough wall space in Tate Modern or galleries across the world.

“You can rewrite history but you can’t reinvent it,” Morris said. “We are highlighting the great contributions of women but there is an imbalance in the history.”

[The Guardian]


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