Collection NameTate Public Records: Building Tate Liverpool
Reference Number (click the number to browse all records in this collection)TG 8
TitleBuilding Tate Liverpool
Access StatusOPEN
LocationRed Zone
DescriptionThese records document the development of the first of Tate's regional galleries from the early discussions, through the design proposals considered for the Liverpool Albert Dock conversion, negotiations with government and other agencies, technical specifications, and funding to the opening of Tate Liverpool in May 1988
ArrangementThe records are grouped thematically and largely arranged chronologically to file level. The groups are as follows: Advocacy for 'Tate in the North' and initial project proposals', Jan 1980-Dec 1984; Design proposals and structural reviews, Jan 1984-Dec 1986; Technical specifications, Jan 1985-Dec 1988; Fundraising - private donors and other initiatives, Jan 1980-Dec 1988; Project management, Jan 1982-Dec 1988; Opening of Tate Liverpool, Jan 1985-Dec 1988
Legal StatusPublic Record
Related MaterialTate Liverpool building photographs can be found in the Building and Fabric series of the Tate Archive Photographic Collection (TGAPHOTO)
Administrative HistoryThe proposal for a gallery showing works from Tate's permanent collection for people living far from London was first presented to Tate's Trustees by Stuart Mason in 1973 at his final meeting as a Trustee. The idea gained further support with the arrival in 1980, of Alan Bowness as Tate Director. He had been an advocate for regional expansion of the arts in his role as Chairman of the Arts Council, Arts Panel. With the support of the Tate Trustees for a 'Tate in the North', in 1980 Bowness set about finding a suitable site. Various locations were initially considered including Halifax and Huddersfield before sites visits were made to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. Liverpool had been the last city Alan Bowness visited on his tour of potential locations. Here he was shown various disused buildings that might possibly be converted into a gallery, including a church, municipal hall, a railway building and a hotel, but it was the last site he visited, sitting at the heart of the run down city centre, a disused warehouse in the once bustling Albert Dock built by Jesse Hartley between 1841-47, which captured his imagination.
With the support for the development from members of Merseyside Council, and the approval of Tate's Trustees in July 1981 an approach was made to Merseyside Development Corporation which had purchased the 120 hectare Liverpool South Dock encompassing the Albert Dock. The Corporation was established in 1981 to halt the decline in the region by the Minister for Merseyside, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine. Following this approach and discussion with the Minister it was agreed that the Tate project could be included in Heseltine’s 14 point Merseyside regeneration package.
In February 1982 the Propery Services Agency commissioned a structural survey of the seven storey, Block C of the Albert Dock on Tate's behalf. And in March 1982, architect Sir James Stirling with whom Tate was already working on the Clore Gallery extension for Tate in London, was invited to visit the site accompanied by the Chairman of the Tate Trustees, Sir Jeremy Hutchinson. Stirling, Wilford & Associate subsequently commissioned a site feasibility study for Tate.
Over the course of 1983 cost estimates and funding routes for the new gallery were explored with the Minister for the Arts and the Office of Arts and Libraries. Estimates for the cost of the Gallery was £9.5 million, but it was to be built in two stages with £6.5 million needed for stage 1. For stage 1 the Merseyside Development Corporation were to contribute £4.5 million, whilst the Minister for the Arts promised a further £500,000. The other £1.5 million was to be raised from the private sector which Alan Bowness sought through the support of potential founding patrons; individual, trusts, companies and national bodies willing to back the scheme.
Final Government approval for the scheme was announced on 8 March 1985, although this did not include agreement for any additional funding for the Gallery's running costs. Meanwhile, the Stirling Wilford & Associate partnership worked up a number of proposals for the development, whilst Tate also began planning for the eventual running of the new gallery, devising a full scale mock up exercise for a typical one year programme, including staffing artistic programme and costs.
In 1986 The Property Services Agency issued the final project specifications with accompanying tender drawings.
Phase 1A of the Tate Liverpool building project was completed in 1988 and preparations were made for the opening of the new gallery. On 24 May 1988, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales visited Liverpool to open the Gallery accompanied by architect James Stirling, Chirman of the Tate Trustees Sir Jeremy Hutchinson, Tate Director Alan Bowness, and Tate Liverpool Curator Richard Francis
Custodial HistoryThe records for the project were received from the offices of Tate Director, Alan Bowness, Tate Buildings Department and Tate Liverpool Curator, Richard Francis
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