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From Power Station to Temple of Modern Art

In the late 80s Tate realized that its collection had outgrown its home on Millbank and decided to create a new gallery to house Tate's international modern art.

The redundant Bankside Power Station, closed in 1981 due to increased oil prices, proved an astonishing discovery; a building of enormous size, great architectural distinction, superbly sited opposite St Paul's Cathedral and in a fascinating and historic, if neglected area, next to the rebuilt Globe Theatre, where a thriving community of artists lived and worked.

An international architectural competition was held, which over seventy architects entered, including some of the world's most distinguished. The final choice was the young Swiss practice, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, whose designs were in sympathy with the building's previous use.

The Tate Gallery was at pains to work with the local community during the building work including local residents throughout the process and thereafter, setting up the Bankside Artists Training Trust to support young artists working locally. Furthermore, the final designs were made in conjunction with Tate staff and Trustees, led and held together by Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Gallery.

The Tate Modern opened in 2000 - there were close to 5 million visitors in the first year of opening and in only one year, Tate Modern had become the third most visited tourist attraction in Britain and the anchor attraction on the south side of the Thames, drawing attention and people to a previously undiscovered and undeveloped area.

Since then visitor numbers have continued rise due in part to international travel and the tourism overload suffered by the West End and the City and in part to the increasing number of attractions in the area including a replica of the Golden Hinde ship, the Clink Prison Museum and the sleek Vinopolis wine-tasting attraction.

Since then hotels and restaurants have opened to serve them and in recent years the growing popularity of Borough Market has firmly placed Bankside on the tourist map.