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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Public descends on Tate Modern
Queues at Tate Modern
The gallery is proving popular
Thousands of people have visited London's Tate Modern art gallery as doors opened to the public for the first time.

Around 3,000 visitors an hour headed into the former Bankside power station on Friday morning to take their first look.

The total number had exceeded 12,000 by 1400 BST.


Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger arrives at the opening bash

The building has been transformed at a cost of 134.5m and boasts seven floors of exhibits.

Works long hidden from public view due to lack of space are on view, along with classic works by Matisse, Picasso, Dali and Bacon.

The new museum of modern art was officially opened by the Queen on Thursday and 4,000 guests were invited to the opening party - billed as the showbusiness bash of the year.

The art world has heralded the opening of the Tate Modern as one of the most important cultural happenings this century.

Rush of visitors

The initial figures suggest it has also captured the interest of the general public.

Tate bosses were pleased with the number of people arriving.

A spokeswoman said: "We hadn't actually put a figure on how many we were expecting by the hour or the day but we have said we thought there would be two to three million each year."

The actual figure could end up more than double the original estimate if visits continue at the same rate throughout the year.

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