After careful preparation guided by official advice, today (Monday, 27th July) sees the reopening of all four Tate galleries, allowing the public to once again access hundreds of artworks from across the world.

To allow the galleries to moderate their visitor traffic, visitors are asked to book timed tickets online in advance. One-way routes and safe distancing guidelines are visible throughout the galleries and face coverings are advised, with hand sanitiser available in key areas.

Tate Director Maria Balshaw spoke on the organisation’s priorities at this critical point in time:

“We’re all looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Tate. Art and culture play vital roles in our lives, and many of us have been craving that irreplaceable feeling of being face-to-face with a great work of art. Our number one priority remains that everyone stays safe and well, so we will continue to monitor the situation in the weeks ahead, work closely with Government and colleagues, and make all the changes necessary for a safe reopening.”

Antonio Roberts

Youth-led station Reprezent Radio presented a curated playlist during the online Late at Tate Britain set to visuals by artist Antonio Roberts. Image courtesy of Tate Britain.

Of course, as we have waited eagerly for the opportunity to return in person to our favourite art fairs, events and exhibitions, there have been plenty of online events of which we could take advantage. Tate Britain has been working to keep its visitors occupied during closure using what Tate Chair Lionel Barber described as “new and creative ways to allow our audiences to enjoy art in the virtual world using our digital platforms.” Friday 17th July saw the first online Late at Tate Britain, an online iteration of the gallery’s usual vibrant wontly event featuring workshops, talks and music. A number of other galleries have provided online programmes of their own in recent months.

The chance to actually get back inside the galleries, though, and see artwork in person, will be appreciated by many. Ahead of its reopening, Tate has announced highlights of its programme for the remainder of 2020 and 2021, and there is much to look forward to. Perhaps making up for lost time, this autumn will see an exhibition by Haegue Yang at Tate St Ives, Aubrey Beardsley and Turner’s Modern World at Tate Britain, Bruce Nauman and Zanele Muholi at Tate Modern and Don McCullin at Tate Liverpool. Towards the end of the year, the latter institution will present a new commission by New York-based artist Aliza Nisenbaum (b. 1977, Mexico) depicting key workers from Liverpool.

Aliza Nisenbaum

Tate Liverpool will host an exhibition by Aliza Nisenbaum from 15th December 2020 to 27th June 2021. Image: Aliza Nisenbaum, London Underground: Brixton Station and Victoria Line Staff 2018-19. Courtesy the artist and Art on the Underground, London; Mary Mary, Glasgow; Anton Kern Gallery, New York / © Aliza Nisenbaum.

Communicating the shared excitement ahead of reopening, Anne Barlow, Director, Tate St Ives said:

“We are delighted to be welcoming back our local communities and our visitors to Tate St Ives. As well as the collection displays and the highly acclaimed Naum Gabo exhibition, we will also reopen the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, located a short walk from the gallery. Visitors will be able to book tickets online for both sites together, which makes for a fantastic immersion into the local, national and international significance of this artistic community.”

For those anxious about the idea of having missed the exhibitions they were looking forward to in 2020, have no fear. Tate Modern have confirmed American artist Ed Ruscha’s ARTIST ROOMS exhibition, originally scheduled to end in Spring 2020, will now be extended to July 2021, while its Andy Warhol exhibition will be extended for two more months and close on 15th November 2020. Tate Britain’s annual Winter Commission, this year undertaken by Chila Kumari Burman, is set to go ahead as planned and open for Diwali on 14th November 2020.

Director of Tate Modern, Frances Morris, appears pleased with the gallery’s move to extend popular exhibitions.

“Over the past few months we have been working hard to reschedule upcoming projects with artists, lenders and museum partners around the world, as well as to extend some of those that were due to close this summer, like Kara Walker’s Hyundai Commission and Ed Ruscha’s ARTIST ROOMS display. I particularly hope that this reopening moment will bring renewed attention to our world-class collection, which sits at the heart of everything we do here at Tate Modern, and which will once again be accessible to everyone for free.”

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha: ‘Pay Nothing Until April’ (2003) – ARTIST ROOMS – Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008. © Ed Ruscha

There is also a strong programme of new exhibitions planed for 2021. Tate Modern will play host to work by one of America’s greatest modern painters, Philip Guston, whose humorous and tragic paintings may be just what is needed at this point in history. After this, we can look forward to a rare opportunity to visit two immersive installations by Yayoi Kusama, whose Infinity Mirror Rooms aim to transport the viewer into the artist’s unique vision of endless reflections. We also have the annual Tate Britain Commission to look forward to, created this year by Heather Phillipson.

Guston Painting Smoking Eating

Tate Modern will host a major retrospective of work by Philip Guston from 4 February – 31 May 2021. Image: Philip Guston – ‘Painting, Smoking. Eating’ (1973) Stedeljik Museum, Amsterdam © The Estate of Philip Guston. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

The rest of the year sounds equally promising, with a packed schedule filled with a noteworthy percentage of talented female artists. Summer sees Paula Rego at Tate Britain, Sophie Taeuber-Arp at Tate Modern and Emily Speed at Tate Liverpool. In autumn, visitors will get to see work by Anicka Yi in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, as well as a theatrical exhibition by Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid.

While life in the UK has far from returned to normal, the return of our favourite galleries and spaces will make our slow return to post-lockdown life a much brighter, more inspiring experience. We’re all in need of a creative motivator right now, and Tate is once again on hand to provide it.

Taeuber Arp Composition of Circles and Overlapping Angles

The Sophie Taeuber-Arp retrospective will be at Tate Modern from 15 July – 17 October 2021. Image: Sophie Taeuber-Arp – ‘Composition of Circles and Overlapping Angles’ (1930) The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Riklis Collection of McCrory Corporation. Photo: The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Imaging and Visual Resources. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

Article by Toby Buckley.

For more information on all of the exhibitions mentioned, visit:

The image shown at the top of the page is: Installation view of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life (2011/2017) at Tate Modern © Yayoi Kusama, Photo courtesy of Tate Photography. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms will be at Tate Modern from spring 2021 – spring 2022, Tate Modern.