Two and a half years and £8 million in the making, York Art Gallery opened its doors on Wednesday (July 22) to show off its transformation.
Members of the media were given an early preview of the reimagined gallery. With a new mezzanine floor and the former archive turned into an additional gallery, it offers 60 per cent more space on the same footprint.
Chief executive of York Museums Trust Janet Barnes said the new displays celebrated the city’s “fantastic collection of fine decorative art” and the collectors who brought them here.
Works by Grayson Perry, Sarah Lucas and LS Lowry can be found inside the Grade II* listed building, redeveloped by architects Ushida Findlay and conservation specialists Simpson & Brown.
So what will you see when it opens to the public on Saturday, August 1?
Exhibition Square, York
Opens on Sat Aug 1, then daily Mon to Fri @ 10am-5pm; Sat @ 10am-8pm; Sun @ noon-4pm
Adult: £7.50; child under 16 free with paying adult; YMT card gives 12 months unlimited access to all York Museums Trust attractions for £22, or £17 with a YorkCard
The Madsen Galleries
LS Lowry painted three York scenes, and they are reunited here for the first time, together with the sketch he did of Clifford’s Tower.
They are part of A Picture Of York, showing our city through the eyes of artists including JMW Turner and William Etty.
“You can see the exquisite embroidery in the robes,” said curator Eloise Donnelly of this painting by Bernardo Daddi (c. 1280 – 1348). Considering it’s the oldest in the gallery’s collection that is remarkable.
Halo, by Susie MacMurray, is made of hundreds of gold wire threads. It is inspired by the gold leaf in the gallery’s Italian Renaissance altarpiece paintings.
This work by Young British Artist Sarah Lucas is, says the gallery, “suggestive of human limbs, perhaps in an embrace or even bodies wrestling”.
This painting in the Burton Gallery by Richard Burton precedes an exhibition coming later at the gallery featuring First World War art.
The gallery is designed to be welcoming of all ages. Children will love the portrait chair and little ones can play with the felt toys. Some sculptures, marked “Hands On”, are meant to be touched.
Upper North Gallery
York artist Mark Hearld has scoured the gallery’s collection to create the first temporary exhibition in the Upper North Gallery.
Called The Lumber Room: Unimagined Treasures it is an eclectic mixture of sculpture, ceramics, paintings and other objects.
Centre of Ceramic Art
This is the centrepiece in the art gallery’s transformation. CoCA, the Centre of Ceramic Art, is said to be the largest collection of British Studio Ceramics in the country.
It is launched with a new piece, Manifest: ten thousand hours, comprising 10,000 hand-made bowls by Clare Twomey.
On long term loan to the gallery, the Anthony Shaw Collection relocates his art from his London home to York. There are some unique objects to enjoy.
Let’s go outside
The gardens, once flattened by Baedeker bombs, are slowly coming to life and will be ready later in the year.
Already, though, the gallery and Museum Gardens are reconnected like never before.
The art of food
Along with all the new galleries there’s a new café. Run by Café No 8, it will be the perfect place to talk about art over something fresh and tasty.