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Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 08:09 GMT
The year art was hot
Tate Modern
Millions of visitors flocked to the Tate Modern
Britain would seem to have become a nation of art lovers, if the last 12 months are to be believed.

Millions of visitors have poured through the doors of Tate Modern since it opened on Bankside in London.

It opened its doors in May, proving an instant hit with critics and with visitors.

The 134m conversion of the former power station attracted 3,000 visitors an hour on its first day.

Maurizio Cattelan's simulacrum of the Holy Father being crushed by a meteorite
Apocalypse at the Royal Academy caused a storm
The combination of accessible contemporary art and a striking location pulled in one million visitors in the first six weeks as the nation seemed reborn as art lovers.

Suddenly the "Is it art?" debate seemed redundant through the sheer weight of interest in contemporary art.

But the year was not without artistic controversy.

The Royal Academy of Arts in London managed to recreate at least some of the shock it inspired three years ago with the Sensation exhibition with the new show, Apocalypse.

Maurizio Cattelan's simulacrum of the Holy Father being crushed by a meteorite caused the loudest cacophony of complaints.

For many, the year 2000 marked the end of the Young British Artists (YBA) movement and the rebirth of painting.

The Turner Prize nominations included two painters, a photographer and an installation artist.

Wolgang Tillmans won the Turner Prize 2000
The sheer conservatism of the shortlist shocked many.

German-born photographer Wolfgang Tillmans scooped the 20,000 for his work of 57 photographs of the ordinary and the exquisite.

As with every year, the Turner Prize was not without controversy.

British painter Glenn Moore was attacked for plagiarism. An eagle-eyed visitor to Tate Britain spotted that his painting Loves of Shepherds 2000 bore an uncanny resemblance to the cover of a 1970s Robert L Heinlein novel.

The artist himself shrugged off criticism, claiming he was paying homage to other painters.

This year marked the rise of the electronic book, or e-book, as a potential rival to more traditional publishing.

Horror author Stephen King launched his latest book, The Plant, on the net, promising to continue writing only if readers agreed to pay on a chapter-by-chapter basis.

British Museum
The wrong kind of stone caused a controversy at the British Museum
King stopped the writing process after six chapters, claiming he had been told by his agent that he had to work on other projects.

But the writer was forced to admit that paid take-up of his writing had slowed down.

He later criticised net users for having the attention span of a "grasshopper".

It was hardly an illustrious new dawn in publishing but it did seem to point to a future where books are not just bought in hard copy in bookshops or over the internet.

In the more traditional literary sphere, the Booker Prize caused few surprises this year.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood put three previous failures to scoop the award behind her, winning for her novel The Blind Assassin.

Zadie Smith, whose much admired debut novel White Teeth failed to find a place on the Booker shortlist, celebrated success when she was awarded the Guardian First Book award.

But the true publishing success of the year was JK Rowling's latest Harry Potter instalment.

Trvor Nunn
Trevor Nunn endured criticism at the Royal National Theatre
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth in the hugely popular series, was a world-wide phenomenon.

The book sold more than 370,000 copies on its first day in the UK alone and helped propel the author into the lists of Britain's biggest earners and the most powerful figures in the entertainment industry.

At the British Museum there were howls of protest when it was revealed contractors had used the wrong kind of stone to restore the South Portico.

The 100m development of the portico in the British Museum's grand courtyard was built with French limestone and not the British Portland stone of the existing 19th Century neo-classical building.

Critics complained that the new stone was lighter than the existing material and the museum chiefs were accused of a dereliction of duty.

Picasso's painting Woman with Arms Folded
Picasso's painting Woman with Arms Folded, sold for $55m
The restoration of the museum's important reading room was almost overlooked amid the fuss.

Elsewhere in London, the Royal National Theatre record its first loss, at 160,000, since the mid-80s.

Within days the vultures were circling over the head of director Trevor Nunn, but he soon had the last laugh when the theatre scooped five out of the nine Evening Standard theatre awards.

There were anniversaries to mark the 250th year since J.S. Bach's death and the 100th year since Oscar Wilde died.

It was a good year for auctions. A hand-written chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses sold for $1.5m, while a Rembrandt masterpiece, Portrait of a Lady, was sold for almost 20m.

Picasso's Woman with Arms Folded sold for a record price of $55m, the fifth-highest price ever paid for a piece of art.

See also:

23 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Shock art hits London
23 Oct 00 | Business
National Theatre's poor performance
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Atwood wins Booker Prize
09 Nov 00 | Americas
Auction record for Picasso
29 Nov 00 | Entertainment
King's e-book stalls
28 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Photographer wins Turner Prize
04 Dec 00 | Entertainment
British Museum opens to controversy
07 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Smith takes first book prize
11 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Opera boss speculation grows
13 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Rembrandt fetches 19.8m
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