Tate St Ives in Cornwall to open £20m cliff-face extension


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Media captionBuried art treasures at the new Tate St Ives extension

A new £20m extension to the Tate St Ives art gallery in Cornwall has been unveiled.

The extension, which opens to the public on Saturday, creates nearly 600 sq m (6,460 sq ft) of extra space.

It has been built into the cliff face after local objectors said the scheme would block views of the sea and take up car parking space.

The extra space will allow the gallery to remain open all year instead of closing while exhibitions are changed.

More on the £20m extension, and other Devon and Cornwall news

It will also give more space for local artists to display their work.

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Work by Rebecca Warren is on display in the new extension

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Mark Osterfield said discussions with St Ives residents were important in developing the project

Tate executive director Mark Osterfield said the concerns from residents meant they have ended up with a “better site in a way that delivers better for us and for the wider community”.

He said the extension also addressed previous criticisms of the gallery.

“People were disappointed – we were closed for six weeks a year – we won’t be closed any more,” he said.

“They came to see the St Ives artists, we can show the St Ives artists now, and they also came to see international, modern and contemporary exhibitions.

“We’re actually delivering what I think people expect from Tate.”

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Hufton+Crow

Tate St Ives extension timeline

  • 1993: Tate St Ives opens
  • 2004: Competition announced for new extension
  • 2005: Jamie Fobert Architects win competition to design new extension
  • 2011: Project dropped after objections
  • 2012: Fobert wins new competition for extension
  • 2013: Work starts on new extension
  • 14 October 2017: New extension opens to public

The new extension was designed by Jamie Fobert Architects, whose original plans in 2005 were dropped after objections.

Builders had to dig down 15m into the cliff face, excavating 977 lorry-loads of granite to create the four-storey extension.

Image copyright
Hufton+Crow

Where did the cash come from?

Public sector:

  • The Coastal Communities Fund – £3.87m
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund – £2.78m
  • Arts Council England – £4m
  • The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport/Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund – £125,000

Private sector:

  • The Headley Trust
  • Clore Duffield Foundation
  • The Foyle Foundation,
  • The Ronald and Rita McAulay Foundation
  • Lord and Lady Myners of Truro
  • Garfield Weston Foundation

Initial excavations revealed unexpected amounts of Cornish greenstone, a particularly hard granite, which required more work than had been anticipated, the Tate said.

The redevelopment also features new offices and a loading bay and space for workshops and other artistic activities.

The new extension opens with sculptor Rebecca Warren’s solo exhibition.

Image copyright
Dennis Gilbert

St Ives extension in numbers:

  • Numbers of visitors each year: About 250,000
  • Estimated value to local economy every year: £11m
  • Size of new extension: 600 sq m (6,460 sq ft)
  • Amount of rock removed 922 lorry loads of granite and spoil
  • Depth of excavations: 15 m (50ft)

Figures: Association of Leading Visitor Attractions/Tate St Ives



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