Tate rebuilds installation that left the biggest impression

Gallery's first interactive exhibit – which gave art lovers splinters – is to return after 38 years

When Robert Morris unveiled the first interactive artwork to be installed at Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain) in 1971, he was convinced that the British public would be too prim to engage with the "rough and tumble" of his piece.

He couldn't have been more wrong. A flood of 2,500 people turned up and participated with such vigour in climbing walls, carrying bricks, balancing on wooden logs and travelling through tunnels that many were injured.

In short, the British public proved they were not nearly as proper as the American artist had supposed. The response to the show was described as "pandemonium" in the press a few days later. Women got splinters stuck in their bottoms from sliding on the rough plywood surfaces and others, utterly "intoxicated" by the work, were "jumping and screaming" around the Tate's Duveen Sculpture Galleries.

The exhibition's keeper, Michael Compton, complained that the public had gone "berserk on the giant see-saws" and "loosened the boards on other exhibits by trampling on them".

Nearly 40 years on, Tate Modern is planning to test the British public once again by recreating Morris's installation in its entirety, this time in the Turbine Hall. Granted, people have had four decades to get accustomed to the thrills of interactive art, including Carsten Höller's slides in the Turbine Hall in 2006 which proved to be one of the gallery's most popular shows, but the Tate is taking no chances this time round.

Health and safety signs will be placed prominently, staff members will be advising visitors on how best to interact with the pieces and all the works will be made with contemporary materials rather than the raw, unfinished wood that Morris used in 1971.

The installation will be brought back in collaboration with Morris for the gallery's annual celebration, UBS Openings: The Long Weekend, from 22 May, and will invite the public to climb, balance and slide around a series of architectural and sculptural pieces. The installation will sit on the east side of the 50m-long hall, exactly recreating the original configuration.

Morris said the piece, called Bodyspacemotionthings, would give people an opportunity to become "more aware of themselves and their own experience rather than more aware of some version of my experience".

The artist first came to public attention in the 1960s when he was closely associated with Minimalism and developed an interest in the viewer's experience of his art. Conservative critics swiftly dismissed Morris's conceptual work as "disconcertingly superficial" and, after the premature closure of the Tate show, said his artwork left no lasting impression (although the women with splinters may have disagreed). During the late 1960s, his work became ever larger. He created the Robert Morris Observatory in the Netherlands, a "modern Stonehenge" which identifies the solstices and the equinoxes.

Kathy Noble, the assistant curator of the recreated installation, said the unforeseen response to the 1971 show lay partly in its novelty factor. This was the first fully interactive show that Tate had ever staged and audiences responded with enthusiasm. "It was a landmark moment in Tate's history. The idea was to encourage viewers to become more aware of their own physicality. Contemporary audiences have changed, so will have very different expectations to those of 1971," she said.

The four-day exhibition is part of a partnership between Tate and UBS. Last year's Long Weekend attracted 100,000 visitors.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing