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Switch House, Tate Modern

Switch House, Tate Modern

Switch House, Tate Modern

Finally, Tate Modern have disabled parking on level ground and access from the disabled car parking area that is nice and easy to traverse in a power wheelchair. Hurrah.

It will be so nice to be able to go across there without my stomach in knots worrying about access via slopes and broken paving. Not that I ever let that stop me going as Tate Modern, once you’re inside, is a great place for power wheelchairs and the new Switch house extension adds to the pleasure.

Though we nearly didn’t make it last Wednesday – a members preview day.

I had a great day planned: get to the Tate at 4pm, look around for a couple of hours, leave before the early evening visitor rush, get back to watch France in the Euro’s.

Sadly, the day went in our usual frantic style so we didn’t leave home until 5pm. We got stuck in rush hour traffic, wasted time turning back then going on an alternative route, got to the Tate at 7pm alongside teeming crowds of office-leaving Londoners and missed the football. Typical day, really.

When we arrived, there were queues to get in, queues for the lifts, toilets, even to speak to the staff. My shoulders sank. Having spent the past couple of hours in traffic, I needed a drink and some food. We decamped to the bar, conveniently close to the entrance which had drinks but no food – not even a bag of crisps! Soft opening problems included non-delivery of food. Not a good start.

However, over a long cold drink, I calmed down, though we did contemplate just leaving and coming back on a quieter day. In the end, we compromised, going down to the performance space and up to a couple of levels with artwork on for a quick look around. We gave the members room and viewing platform a miss – queues too long and spaces way too busy for a wheelchair to move around easily.

I was glad we went and, as expected, everywhere we did go was wonderfully accessible. I really liked the performance spaces on level 0. It will be interesting to see what they do with these going forward. The art floors were not such fun as there were too many people – never fails to amaze me how people fall over my chair as if they simply do not see me. My power chair is built like a ten-ton truck so it’s pretty painful for them and yet, they look at me like it’s my fault. (No, it’s not my driving; it happens when I’m stationary too – weird, no?) Also, a lot of the art was quite small and high up on the walls and I just couldn’t get close enough  to it – I’ll try again next time. Oh, I must mention that the shop had a great stock of art books – love that.

I’ve no regrets about leaving without seeing it all. We are regulars and will be back in the summer to see the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition and explore a bit more – viewing platform, members room and restaurant, that’s where I’ll be.

So, I’m carrying on recommending the Tate Modern to power wheelchair users. The Switch House opening has just made a good experience even better and the parking is to die for – remember to book it a few days before your visit though; availability is limited and access is only for booked spaces. Enjoy.


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