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London's Tate Modern gallery gears up for Monday reopening
Tate Modern exterior. Photo: Tate Photography.

LONDON (AFP).- One of Britain's leading visitor attractions, the Tate Modern in London, on Friday put the finishing touches to its reopening plans, after four months of closure.

Galleries and museums across the country were shut in late March as the coronavirus outbreak took hold and the public was told to stay at home.

Now, as lockdown measures are gradually eased, the Tate Modern, on the south bank of the River Thames, is due to reopen on Monday -- but with a difference.

Visitors are only allowed in if they have booked in advance online, and will have to follow specially signposted routes through the collections and exhibitions.

The gallery, which in 2019 had nearly 6.1 million visitors, is expecting a more home-grown crowd initially, given the impact of the outbreak on overseas tourism and travel.

Exhibition director Achim Borchardt-Hume told AFP the gallery is aiming for a more ethnically diverse programme, and has erected a huge fountain by African-American artist Kara Walker in its giant Turbine Hall.

"Fons Americanus" is billed as an ironic counterpart to the statue to queen Victoria outside Buckingham Palace, and has been reworked as Queen Vicky.

Instead of celebrating the British Empire, the 13-metre (42-foot) tall working fountain referencing the transatlantic slave trade of both Britain and the United States.

An Andy Warhol exhibition which had only been open five days before the gallery was forced to close has been extended until November.

The Tate Modern's sister galleries, Tate Britain, also in London, Tate St Ives, in Cornwall, southwest England, and Tate Liverpool, in northwest England, are also reopening.

Tate Britain has an exhibition devoted to the 19th century British illustrator and printmaker Aubrey Beardsley, which will later travel to the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

© Agence France-Presse

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