New name for Tate Britain

April 1 2012

On Friday, I went to a fascinating symposium at Tate Britain on recent discoveries made by technical analysis of paintings. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on whether Van Dyck rubbed his canvasses with garlic, as De Mayerne's manuscript claims - answer, probably not.

But my most interesting discovery of the day was what is going on behind the scenes at Tate Britain. Apparently the museum is to be rebranded. In the current 'Migrations' exhibition, new director Penelope Curtis describes the gallery's name as 'troubling'. So 'Tate Britain - Home to British Art from 1500 to the Present Day' is out. (This should not come as too much of a surprise, given that under the new curatorial regime the museum's dateline officially starts in 1550.) Names being suggested include: 'T8 GB'; 'Tate Not So Modern'; and, 'Tate Britain (mostly, but with some foreign artists too)'.


A reader writes:

The Tate should revert to its original nomenclature: The National Gallery of British Art (used in the press at its inception, if not officially). As Sir Henry Tate merely endowed the building and not the foundation (indeed for most of its life the acquisition budget came from the Chantrey bequest), the Millbank site should be called the Tate building, whilst the institution could be 'The National Gallery of British Art', a name which would underline the institutions supposed central purpose.

Incidentally, have you seen the heart-breaking plans for ruining the central rotunda, by inserting a staircase? Whilst the general idea of reopening the first floor galleries is an excellent one, the destruction of Sidney Smith's wonderful Guarini-esque  dome seems extremely short-sighted. The plan will spoil the flow of the 1890s building into the wonderful Duveen galleries (which I agree with your excellent suggestion, should be hung with paintings). The space under the dome is actually quite small and its destruction will, in more enlightened times when the visitor numbers recover, lead to serious congestion.

Another writes:

I thought "what?", then "Ahhh, it's an April Fool thingy" and then almost as quickly the corrosive doubt...

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