Gallery to open former power station’s oil tanks to public next summer

The Tate has announced that the first phase of the Herzog & De Meuron designed extension to the Tate Modern gallery is set to open in the summer of 2012.

The gallery, which along with the other Tate properties attracted a record 7.4 million visitors between April 2010 and March 2011, has begun construction of a much-needed extension to alleviate crowding and free up space to display works that are currently in storage.

In total the new extension will add 70% more space to the gallery – which receives over twice the number of annual number of visitors that it was designed to cope with when it opened in 2000.

Phase 1 of the new extension includes the opening of the former power station’s 30m wide oil tanks which had lain unused since the power station was decommissioned.

The oil tanks are being transformed into what the Tate has called one of the most exciting new art spaces in the world.

The East Tank will provide the opportunity to showcase major new installations, and will be expanded and complemented by the South Tank programme that includes film, performance, sound and discussions.

The Tate has raised 70% of the £215m needed to fund the new extension - which has mainly relied on private donors. The extension is expected to be completed in 2016, four years later than previously planned.