‘Tate Modern shows what can be achieved when we remain open to the world’

Tate chief Lord Browne used the opening of Herzog & de Meuron’s extension to mount a passionate attack on Brexiteers.

The chair of the trustees was speaking to scores of journalists and TV crews from around the world at the press conference launching the £260 million Switch House yesterday designed by the Swiss duo.

“At a time when some would seek to turn us inwards, to dislodge this country from its rightful place as a hub for creativity, the new Tate Modern is a reminder of what can be achieved when we remain open to the world’s ideas and cultures,” he said.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey, another dignitary at the event, also used his speech as an opportunity to push the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU.

“I echo what Lord Browne said – the new Tate Modern is a statement of a confident Britain that looks out on the world and engages with the world,” he said.

“Millions of people will come here to what is a global museum with a global collection. It will transform the way we see contemporary art, with much more emphasis on women artists and much more emphasis on artists from all over the world – 50 countries being represented here – and much more emphasis on new forms of contemporary art.”

Browne also said the former Bankside Power Station, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, was “a building that was once London’s beating heart is now its cultural cathedral”.

At the same event, new London mayor Sadiq Khan vowed to embed culture in London’s planning system, making it an affordable city for artists to live and work.

He promised creative enterprise zones that would contain subsidised artists’ studios and “package of incentives that will make living and working in London affordable”.

Khan said: “For too long culture has been a nice-to-have. We’ve got to change that.”

The extension, built by Mace, is due to formally open on Friday.