WhatMuseums & Galleries
Bankside, SE1 9TG
The extension to the world's largest contemporary art museum is now open. Created by Herzog & de Meuron, the same architects who did the original Boiler House, the Switch House is a wondrous addition to London.
First the facts and figures: Showcasing international work since 1960 it provides over 60% more display space; there is much more space for installation and film work; women artists have a good representation. The existing building has also had a major re-jig - there is a new ‘Start Gallery’ - a dedicated space for families and young people offering an accessible and enjoyable introduction to modern and contemporary art. The two buildings are linked on two levels, the lower of which has a wonderful Ai Wei Wei tree on it.
The Switch House rises from the subterranean Tanks up to a tenth floor viewing area with what must be one of the best free views in London. The industrial clad 'tanks' are given over to film, and performance art. The circular sweeping staircases take you up through the most glorious, airy space of any gallery. Room to look, to sit, to play. Highlights of the work on show include Louise Bourgois' scary spiders, a city made of cous cous, two live macaws, sleep pods and an interactive room where you are encouraged to build with bricks.
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