Contract of Tate director renewed

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Arts Reporter

The Tate's trustees have reappointed Nicholas Serota to the directorship of the Tate Gallery, a move agreed earlier this month, it emerged yesterday.

The gallery has not publicly announced the decision despite the fact that as director of the Tate, with its national collections of historic British art and 20th-century painting, Mr Serota has one of the art world's most influential positions.

Two weeks ago he admitted to being unsure whether he would be offered a second term. Yesterday he told the Independent that the trustees had told him10 days ago that they wanted him to stay on for seven more years. "I'm delighted to be staying at the Tate," he added.

There was speculation that Mr Serota, 49, could be tempted to the United States. He is understood to have turned down several prestigious offers.

His appointment was approved by John Major and prepares the way for Mr Serota to assume control of the planned Bankside Tate Gallery of Modern Art, which is expected to win pounds 50m in lottery money.

The position of director is decided by the Tate's 11 trustees, who are said to have agreed unanimously to ask him to stay.

Dennis Stevenson, the chairman of the trustees, said: "The trustees agreed it in principle and the Prime Minister and everyone said it was a good idea."

Mr Serota's first act after being appointed in 1988 was to make more effective use of the gallery's space, turning over the collection almost annually so that 1,700 paintings and sculptures were shown in three years compared with 1,000 under the old system. Visitor numbers rose by 40 per cent between his arrival and 1993.

But eyebrows were raised by his purchase of The End of the Twentieth Century, a sculpture by one of his favourite artists, Joseph Beuys. It cost almost pounds 700,000 and consisted of an assortment of basalt blocks.