In 1889 Henry Tate, an industrialist who had made his fortune as a sugar refiner, offered his collection of British nineteenth-century art to the nation and provided funding for the first Tate Gallery.
In December 1992 the Tate Trustees announced their intention to create a separate gallery for international modern and contemporary art in London. The former Bankside Power Station was selected as the new gallery site in 1994. The following year, Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron were appointed to convert the building into a gallery. That their proposal retained much of the original character of the building was a key factor in this decision. In 1996 the design plans were unveiled and, following a £12 million grant from the English Partnerships regeneration agency, the site was purchased and work began. The huge machinery was removed and the building was stripped back to its original steel structure and brickwork.
The turbine hall became a dramatic entrance and display area and the boiler house became the galleries. Since it opened in May 2000, more than 40 million people have visited Tate Modern. It is one of the UK’s top three tourist attractions and generates an estimated £100 million in economic benefits to London annually. In 2009 Tate embarked on a major project to develop Tate Modern. Working again with Herzog & de Meuron, the transformed Tate Modern makes use of the power station’s spectacular redundant oil tanks, increasing gallery space and providing much improved visitor facilities.