Slower than planned, Tate Modern’s expansion starts in the basement

Only part of the project will be completed by next summer, with a lack of funds hampering progress

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Tate Modern’s high-rise extension has been delayed until 2016, four years after the initial target. The original intention was to open it for the London Olympics and in May last year the gallery confirmed that “work is well under way and we aim to have a new building in place by 2012”. What will now open next summer is the conversion of three huge underground oil tanks which will be used for live events and large installations. The ten-storey-high extension has been delayed, primarily because of the difficulty of raising the funds during a recession. Total costs are still £215m, of which £150m has now been raised. In July 2008 £70m had been committed, including £50m from the government. This means that a further £80m has been pledged from private and corporate donors during the past two years. Considering the financial climate, this is a real success. The Tate’s chairman says the project is the UK’s “single largest fundraising campaign from private sources ever undertaken in the cultural field”. The extension, which will increase public space by 70%, is now being led by Tate Modern’s director, Chris Dercon, who arrived from Munich’s Haus der Kunst in April.

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