Henry Tate (1819-1899) was an English industrialist and philanthropist. Starting his business career as a grocer with an apprenticeship at 13 years old, Tate made a fortune in sugar refinery, and was known for his humble nature and generous charitable donations in support of health and education causes. In 1889, he offered to donate his collection of 65 contemporary paintings to the British government on the condition the collection be displayed in a suitable gallery. As there was no gallery space available at the time, Tate also offered £80,000 toward the building of a new gallery. His donation toward construction of the gallery eventually reached the sum of £150,000. (An unverified guesstimate as we’re talking about an amount equivalent to US$20+ million in today’s money.)
The Tate Gallery, now Tate Britain, first opened to the public on July 21, 1897 as the “National Gallery of British Art” in central London at the site of the former Millbank Penitentiary (1816-90), a prison that had served as a holding facility for convicts prior to transport to penal colonies in Australia. At the opening, a total of 245 art works dating back to 1790 (including the Tate collection) were displayed in eight rooms within a grand new building featuring a central dome and classical portico entrance topped by a pitched gable mounted with symbolic statuary of Britannia, the Lion and the Unicorn.
It was the launch of what has become a network of four Tate art museums holding the UK’s national collection of British art (from 1500 to present day) as well as international modern and contemporary art: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives (closed until Spring 2017). Each is unique, and there is always something fun going on; special events and exhibitions, films, performances, special tours, talks and lectures. General admission is free; there’s a charge for some exhibitions and events. Tate also offers an extensive digitized art and archival collection, part of an initiative designed to make art more accessible to the public by utilizing new technologies and media.
Discover the Life of an Artist
In September 2015, Tate introduced “AnnoTate”, an innovative web-based crowdsourcing transcription tool that allows online users to get directly involved with art history research by browsing and transcribing a collection of digitized handwritten documents from the Tate archival collection, including artists’ letters, diaries, notes, journals and sketch books.
The process of transcribing is somewhat similar to deciphering a secret code depending upon the condition of the document and quality of handwriting, and it’s also fascinating to view these personal writings and learn details of an artist’s life and work. Using AnnoTate, you can get involved in this important research (no art history education or experience required) – any time, any place, choose from two different approaches:
Start Transcribing. Jump right in and start transcribing items at random (links are provided so that you can learn more about the artist and context of an art work); or
Find Artists. Select an artist from a list and focus transcribing the writings of a specific artist.
Do as much or as little as you wish; work at your own pace. The amount of time you put in is totally at your discretion. [A word of caution: AnnoTate users have reported that transcribing can be addicting! ]
You’ll find inspiration in this collection of selected videos about contemporary artists and their work— Creative Perspectives –FREE to watch, on-demand
Researching family history can be quite an adventure, and the
discoveries both heartrending and joyous → The story of Finding Peter
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History page, Tate website
Wikipedia: Henry Tate, Millbank Prison, Tate Britain
Feature photo courtesy of Pexel CC0