Selby Whittingham: Tate Modern or Tate Theatre

A survey by the Office for National Statistics in May revealed that the British are changing

their spending habits. Instead of filling our homes to the rafters with consumer durables and not-so-durables, we’re spending our spare cash on ‘experiences’, including recreation and, yes, culture. “People are interested in servicing a lifestyle rather than buying stuff,” one

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trend forecaster commented in The Guardian, while /* xin-1 */ a senior executive from
IKEA predicted gloomily: “In the west, we have probably hit peak stuff”.

Does this mean fewer family trips to the mall and more museum /* 9-970x90 */ visits? The contemporary museum sector certainly

Last year Tate Modern logged 5.7

million visitors (don’t you love the precision of the decimal google_ad_width = 970; point?) and this year, with the

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added attraction and google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; capacity of Herzog & de Meuron’s new Switch house extension, it’s hoping to swell
attendance figures to over 6 million.

Architecturally, malls and google_ad_width = 970; contemporary art galleries have much in common: both incorporate awesomely large atria designed to instill a sense of limitless possibility, and both feature fancy escalators and rubbish cafés run by stressed and underpaid staff. Ah yes, you say, but here your parallel hits the buffers: people go to shopping malls to shop. Not strictly true, is my reply: visiting malls is a leisure activity. People go to malls to look at stuff and at each other,

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especially when travelling
up and down the escalators, much as the ancient Greeks did in the agora, though without the escalators. Window-shopping is a group activity, a sociable way
of servicing a lifestyle. As an experience, the ONS might well put it in the same category as visiting Tate Modern.

In

Process Overview:

the run-up to the Switch House’s opening we were forewarned that much of its 60% of extra
space would be devoted to social interaction. Museums used to be about conservation. Now, with a minor anagrammatic rearrangement, they’re about conversation. Like shopping malls,

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contemporary galleries are places to hang out in, with the shop window or exhibition displays serving as talking points. As Jacques Herzog explained to src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> The

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Observer about the design of the Switch House, “the //--> stairs are wider than we need

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them; we want to invite people to
have google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; a different kind of experience than to rush from one gallery to another”.

All well and good, but you can’t get round a gallery this size without rushing, especially not if you linger on the stairs. I lost the