Transforming the idea of a gallery

The team behind Tate transformed the idea of a gallery. Out of a collection of institutions grew dynamic, brand-led destinations, and annual visitor numbers swelled. We helped define and convey the shift.

Defining a shared philosophy

In the 1990s, the Tate Gallery had opened new sites in Liverpool and St. Ives and was about to create a huge modern art gallery at Bankside in London. The Tate team wanted to combine all four sites through a shared philosophy.

Rather than traditional institutions, they aimed to build exciting destinations that could attract audiences on the strength of brand name alone. These places would democratize culture, without dumbing it down.

With our help, Tate reinvented the idea of a gallery from a single, institutional view, to a branded collection of experiences that shared an attitude.

We created the Tate brand around the idea “look again, think again”: both an invitation and a challenge to visitors. Instead of the confusing “Millbank” and “Bankside,” we named the London sites Tate Britain and Tate Modern to signal what kind of art people would find inside.

We designed a range of logos that move in and out of focus, suggesting the dynamic nature of Tate – always changing but always recognizable. We shaped Tate’s visual style, influencing its posters, website, publications and shops, and seven years after launch, we helped Tate refresh its vision for the decade ahead.

Changing the way Britain sees Art

From the day it opened, Tate Modern was a huge success, attracting double its target visitor numbers, and becoming the most popular modern art gallery in the world. After a year, Tate’s overall annual visitor numbers had risen 87% to 7.5 million. As the Observer wrote in 2005, Tate “has changed the way that Britain sees art, and the way the world sees Britain.”

In 2012 Tate Modern broke records with 5.3 million annual visitors, a 9% increase, making it the busiest year in its history.

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