A worker walks through The Tanks, new galleries within the Tate Modern art gallery.

The Tate Modern in London, one of the most visited art galleries in the world, presented its latest attraction - the use of its underground oil tanks as a space for the performing arts.

The Tate, a former power station, is situated on the Thames near St Paul's cathedral. It attracts around 5 million visitors a year.

From Wednesday, when the tanks open to the public, visitors will be able to descend from the entrance hall, the Turbine Hall, into the refurbished tanks.

The Tate will, according to its director, Nicholas Serota, become the first museum in the world which dedicates space to live art, performance, installation and film.

“This is the next stage of the transformation of the Tate,” said Serota.

The tanks open on Wednesday with a dance piece by acclaimed Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker.

“In the past 50 years, film, performance, installation and new media have become the chosen forms of expression for many of the most exciting visual artists,” said Serota.

“Tate has responded to these developments in its collection and exhibitions, but will now have spaces in which such works can be presented on a regular basis to a broad public.”

The opening up and use of the huge concrete tanks has been made possible through public financing and private donations.

As a next step, the Tate plans to use the tanks - situated next to the building - as foundations for an extension of its exhibition space in a 200-million-pound (312-million-dollar) project to be carried out by internationally-renowned architects Herzog & de Meuron. - Sapa-dpa