Rejected Chandelier Design
© Tate Archive 2003
In 1911 a new keeper, Charles Aitken, arrived at the Tate. He had a keen interest in social issues and was concerned because poorer visitors to the Gallery, who had to work
through the week and often on Saturday mornings, had to limit their visit to the brief slot before it got dark on a Saturday afternoon.
Aitken had come to the Tate from the Whitechapel Gallery which had electric lighting. He reasoned that as Tate was more popular amongst ordinary people than the National
Gallery, it should aim to meet the needs of its visitors by remaining open longer in the evenings, and should not be governed by the National Gallery Trustees' ruling on artificial
However despite Aitken's efforts, it was not until the late 1920s that a commission was set up to look into the restricted opening hours of national museums.
It concluded that the National Gallery and Tate Gallery should introduce electrical lighting as a matter of priority.
Electric lighting was finally introduced throughout the Tate in 1935, enabling the Gallery to stay open until 5 pm - whatever the weather!