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Visitor figures fall by one-third at “old” Tate since Tate Modern opening

Relaunch in October 2001 intended to bring back the public

The director of the Tate Gallery, Nicholas Serota, hopes that the relaunch and new displays in October 2001 will bring back visitors to Tate Britain (the original Tate, on Millbank) following the success of Tate Modern.

Visitor numbers at Tate Britain slumped after the opening of Tate Modern on 12 May, and were down to 63,000 a month in June. They then rose to 84,000 in July, compared to 133,000 in the same month last year, a drop of 37%.

Following the opening of Tate Modern a fall had been expected, and Sir Nicholas Serota says he “feels confident that visitors numbers will go back to the level of recent years.” The flood at Tate Britain’s construction site, which caused extensive damage on Easter Sunday, will however, delay next year’s planned opening of the new galleries by six months (The Art Newspaper, No. 105, July-August 2000, p. 10). Initially it had been hoped that the £32 million Centenary Development galleries and the new entrance might still open as planned next spring, but the date has now been put back to October.

October 2001 will see a full rehang of the permanent collection of British art, which will be displayed in a chronological sequence, unlike the current thematic displays which have been widely criticised. For this major relaunch of Tate Britain, the gallery will be borrowing from the Royal Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Yale Center for British Art. In an unusual venture, Tate Britain will also be showing “Medieval sculpture” in the Duveen Galleries (17 September 2001-2 March 2002). The Tate’s collection begins at 1500, and this is the first time in its history that has held a display of earlier art.

The first exhibition in the Centenary Development was originally to have been a major show about Stanley Spencer, but this will now open in another part of the Millbank building (22 March-24 June). The last big exhibition about Spencer was at the Royal Academy 20 years ago.

The first exhibition in the Centenary Development’s new Linbury Galleries, funded by Lord and Lady Sainsbury of Preston Candover, is now to be “Exposed: the Victorian nude” (25 October 2001-20 January 2002).

Meanwhile, next year’s major exhibitions at Tate Modern have been announced. “Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis” runs from 1 February to 29 April 2001. This is to be followed by “Zero to Infinity: Arte Povera 1962-72” (1 June to 19 August), which then tours the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington.

Alongside Arte Povera will be a monographic show on Morandi (22 May-12 August). Tate Modern will end the year with “Surrealism: desire unbound” (20 September-16 December), which will then travel to the Metropolitan Museum in New York (28 January-6 May 2002).