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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK
Tate toasts Matisse marathon
Tate Modern
The Tate Modern stayed open until 2200 Sunday night
London's Tate Modern gallery closed its Matisse Picasso exhibition on Sunday night, with gallery bosses claiming a new attendance record.

More than 500,000 people saw the exhibition - which opened in May - by the time it closed at 2200 BST.

The final weekend saw the two-year-old gallery - a converted power station by the Thames at Southwark - open for 36 hours through Saturday and Sunday.

Picasso
Picasso's work is loved by millions
It is the most popular exhibition in Tate history, beating the 406,000 who saw Paul Cezanne's works at the organisation's Millbank site in 1996.

A spokesman said there had been 467,166 tickets sold since the opening, with 40,000 more attending corporate events out of hours.

The final 36 hour marathon saw 16,775 people pass through the doors.

A number of special events have been taking place over the weekend, including special tours of the exhibition on Saturday night.

Writer and jazz musician George Melly took the first tour at 2300, while Tim Marlow, presenter of Channel 5's recent programmes on Tate, took the midnight tour.

Lizzy Cowling, the curator of the exhibition, led the tour at 0100.

Other highlights included live music from jazz band Dynamic Jazz.

Special screenings of BBC Two's recent two-part Omnibus on Matisse took place throughout the night.

Tate bosses also opened an absinthe bar serving the notorious green drink which fuelled many of the wilder visions of great artists.

Visitors have had to buy tickets for specific timeslots to prevent overcrowding.

The show will now move on to galleries in Paris and New York.

Tate director Sir Nicolas Serota said: "The huge numbers are an indication that while Matisse and Picasso are clearly popular, this show in particular has been a revelation.

"We are fortunate to have been able to work with the national galleries in Paris and New York and I am confident that it will be equally popular in both these cities."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Sillito
"Welcome to all-night art"
The BBC's Greg Morsbach
"Visitors will be able to wander around the gallery in the middle of the night"
Adrian Hardwick of the Tate Modern
"It's the most succesful thing we've ever done, people just keep coming"
See also:

29 May 02 | Entertainment
25 Apr 02 | Entertainment
08 May 02 | Entertainment
19 Aug 02 | Entertainment
14 May 02 | Review
10 May 02 | Entertainment
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