On this day in history : 21st July 1897 – The grand opening of the Tate Gallery, in the City of Westminster, London – by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII)….

The gallery was built on the former site of Millbank Prison, which had been the departure point of convicts being transported to Australia…. It had been demolished in 1890….

The architect for the new gallery was Sidney R.J. Smith and construction began in 1893…. The building we see today is still very much like it was when it was first built….with its grand entrance, central dome and statue of Britannia with a lion and a unicorn….

Image credit : Tony Hisgett CC BY 2.0

The gallery was officially opened as the National Gallery of British Art – but from the onset people referred to it as the Tate Gallery, after its founder and benefactor, Sir Henry Tate…. The sugar magnate had also donated 65 paintings and 2 sculptures, forming the founding collection of the gallery…. In 1932 it became officially known as the Tate Gallery….

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