WHEN PIERRE DE MEURON recently said that Tate Modern, which he designed with Jacques Herzog, “created a wholly new way of showing art,” it was probably one of the few cases on record in which an architect was not egotistical enough. In fact, when the building opened in 2000, it represented nothing less than a wholesale reinvention of the art museum, a project of game-changing superlatives: It was the largest institution dedicated to modern and contemporary art in the world; it also became the most popular, attracting more than five million visitors (nearly double those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, its closest rival) in its first year, and in the following decade it transformed the surrounding South Bank neighborhood into one of London’s fastest-growing districts.
In an era marked by fierce cultural competition among cities and by rampant globalization, these were all
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