Tate eyes river site for art museum: Former power station tipped as home for modern works, writes David Lister

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The Independent Online
THE Tate Gallery's new museum of modern art is likely to be built in part of the Bankside power station, on the south bank of the Thames in London, with a new footbridge over the river linking it to St Paul's.

The Tate aims to split the collection housed on its Millbank site, with the history of British art remaining there and the new gallery showing international art.

Yesterday, Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, revealed a shortlist of three sites - Bankside power station, the Jubilee Gardens next to the Royal Festival Hall, and the Effra site near Vauxhall Bridge. All three are on the river's south bank.

A gallery would have to be built at Jubilee Gardens or the Effra site, but choosing Bankside would allow the conversion of the power station. Each option would involve an architectural competition.

The Tate still has to raise up to pounds 20m of private-sector money, but is confident of doing so and of getting a matching amount from the Government's Millennium Fund for the new museum, which will cost between pounds 30m and pounds 50m. Dennis Stevenson, chairman of the Tate trustees, added yesterday that he would be happy for the new museum to carry the name of a private patron.

The Effra site is understood to be the least likely, as it is not so accessible by public transport as the other two. The Jubilee Gardens site has the advantage of being within a ready-made arts complex which includes the South Bank Centre, the National Theatre and the National Film Theatre, although the South Bank Centre, which presents modern art at its Hayward Gallery, might have some qualms.

While the Jubilee Gardens remains a feasible option, it became evident yesterday that Mr Serota and Mr Stevenson are enthusiastic about converting Bankside power station.

They said that London Underground's Jubilee line extension would increase its accessibility, and a new footbridge across the Thames would be an integral part of the scheme.

Converting the power station would be popular with conservationists, as it would retain the shell of the building, and with champions of modernism, as there would be scope for considerable architectural innovation.

Bankside was built in the late 1950s with Sir Gilbert Scott as consultant architect, and has been described as 'a temple to power'. A symmetrical composition in brick with a 325ft (99m) high central tower, it is an industrial counterpoint to the ecclesiastical dome of St Paul's.

London is one of the few European capitals not to have its own museum of modern art. A decision on the site for the new museum will be announced early next year.

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