Archive JourneysTate History

TimelineThe WarThe FloodPeopleBuildingsQuizFurther Information
Tate BritainTate ModernTate LiverpoolTate St Ives
The opening

During the two years that the Albert Dock warehouse was being converted, a series of artworks were commissioned in and around the Dock to promote the Tate in Liverpool. These included a public sculpture by the artist Tony Cragg, a billboard painting by the painter Stephen Campbell, and a spectacular live performance by artist Bruce McLean and musician David Ward, who would go on to create a performance piece for the opening celebrations two years later.

The Gallery was opened on 24 May 1988 by the Prince of Wales. Alan Bowness was particularly keen for the Prince to be involved because of his interest not only in art and architecture, but also in the rejuvenation of inner city areas.

True to Bowness's aim of using the 'Tate in the North' as a venue for major exhibitions of important modern art, amongst the opening exhibitions was a Surrealism exhibition and also a display of the Rothko murals - important exhibits with a popular appeal that were to draw thousands of visitors to the Gallery.

Stephen Campbell working on billboard mural  © Tate Archive 2003

Stephen Campbell working on billboard mural
Letter from the Palace regarding HRH Prince of Wales opening Tate Liverpool  
Within seven months of opening more than 500,000 people had visited the Gallery, a greater number than the target audience for the whole year.

Letter from the Palace regarding HRH
Prince of Wales opening Tate Liverpool

© Tate Archive 2003