Reimagining Tate Liverpool for the 21st Century

EXT - North © 6a architects_web

It was announced earlier this year that Tate Liverpool is due to close its doors in October for a major refurb. This week sees the gallery communicate more details about the proposed reimagining of its spaces…  

For more than thirty years, Tate Liverpool has been at the forefront of the city’s visual arts offer. When it opened in 1988 (proposed initially as a ‘Tate for the north’), it quickly became a key component of the regeneration of the dock area, drawing tourists to what had by then come to be seen as a blight on Liverpool’s waterfront. The transformation was nothing short of remarkable.

Now, a well-earned lick of paint is on the horizon, with the building due to close its doors in October for what is being described as “a major reimagining” before its planned reopening in 2025.

EXT - Cutaway © 6a architects_web

Helen Legg, Director, Tate Liverpool, noted the necessity for evolution, stating: “Since Tate Liverpool opened 35 years ago, the experiences our audiences want to have, and the kind of work artists want to make, have both changed significantly. So now is the time for us to reimagine the gallery for the 21st century and strengthen the connection between art and people.”

But two years is a very long time in the art world, and Legg added that: “It is also important to us that our audiences know they will still be able to engage with Tate Liverpool during the closure period through the high-quality work we deliver within the city’s communities.” Although details currently remain scant as to what that will look like in real terms, the organisation has signalled its intent to “continue to host events and one-off projects in collaboration with other spaces in the city.”

To work on the project, the key goal of which is to “reimagine the gallery spaces to meet the scale and ambition of today’s most exciting artists,” Tate has enlisted 6a architects. An award-winning practice whose previous projects include New York’s Center for Art, Research and Alliances; MK Gallery; and South London Gallery Fire Station, another urgent consideration will be its social spaces, and how to better connect TL with the community its job is to serve. Certainly, Tate leadership has long sought to make the gallery a destination for more than the latest exhibitions; as a space to dwell, meet friends and – of course – spend money in the café and shop.

To hear more, you can join Helen Legg and 6a’s director Stephanie Macdonald Tuesday 20 June, who will be on hand to share and discuss their plans (aided by an architect’s working model), and the thinking behind them.

A postscript to this: Surprisingly, and counterintuitively, there is a price tag attached to this event. We believe this creates a barrier where there needn’t be one. It is as important as ever, not least in the interests of bringing communities on the doorstep along for the ‘journey’, that such forums be as accessible as possible.

Mike Pinnington

Transforming Tate Liverpool: Meet the Architects 6.30pm @ Tate Liverpool £12 / £7

Images: EXT – North © 6a architects; EXT – Cutaway © 6a architects

Posted on 19/06/2023 by thedoublenegative