On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Tate Modern, the Telegraph charts the effect the museum has had on London and the British public’s taste for contemporary art:
Before it opened, London was the only major European city that did not have a world-class museum of modern art, perhaps because the British public was still unconvinced, uninterested and even suspicious of modern art. Experts lined up to predict that Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate, could never justify Tate Modern’s £134-million price tag, among them Dr Patrick Greene, then head of the Museum’s Association. “There simply aren’t enough visitors to go round,” he said.
At the time, there was evidence to support such claims, including a survey which found that many young Britons, particularly teenagers, believed art was the preserve of the rich and old. […] The museum has drawn in visitors in vast, unanticipated numbers, with more than 45 million people venturing through its entrance into the Turbine Hall. Attendance has doubled original expectations: the building was initially designed for 1.8 million visitors each year and it now gets close to five million, making it the most popular modern and contemporary art attraction in the world.
Last year, it attracted an average of more than 13,000 visitors a day, and 51 per cent of those visitors were under 35. […] The museum’s success and influence can also be measured by the fact that London is now widely perceived as the hub of the contemporary art world and Brits have become enthusiastic gallery goers.