Dirty work

Mark Dion, Tate Thames Dig, 1999

In 1999 the process of transforming what had once been Bankside Powerstation into Tate Modern was well underway. Tate had long since needed more space in which to show its two collections – the national collections of British Art and of Modern Art (here considered to be post-1900) – and the new space was eagerly anticipated. The collections would at last get their own spaces, each museum facing the Thames one from Millbank on the northern bank, the other from Bankside, further east and on the southern bank of the river.

In anticipation of the new space, Mark Dion adopted the role of archaeologist to create the installation Tate Thames Dig, initially shown in the Art Now room at what was then known as the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain).

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