It will be a midsummer night’s dream for the newly-refurbished
An official civic reception will be hosted the celebrate the gallery’s £1.5m rejuvenation on the evening of June 21st, after which it will open its doors to the public once more from 10am the following day (June 22nd).
Art lovers will be delighted to learn that there will now be even more opportunities to visit the gallery as opening hours are also being extended- up to as late as 8pm in the first half of the week.*
The renovation programme has been funded by Leeds City Council and Yorkshire Forward, who donated £1.3m to the project. It has meant a raft of imaginative upgrading to the building and its display spaces, with a new exhibition area, lift for improved access, a café and shop.
The main aim was to restore and make use of disused spaces and one of the most striking examples of this is the painstaking restoration and unveiling of the Victorian Tiled Hall. This awe-inspiring and beautiful room, which had been closed off and hidden behind library shelves for many years, forms a natural link between the
A newly-created entrance means that visitors will be able to move seamlessly between the two and also enjoy a break in the larger café, which will be relocated within the hall. It will seat around 75 people and will serve high teas and other sandwiches and snacks, with a big emphasis on superior quality Yorkshire-sourced produce.
It is more than half a century since the public have seen the hall, where intricate, colourful Victorian tile work, marble columns and the oak, ebony and walnut parquet floor have been lovingly restored.
A new exhibition space has been created, which benefits from a sophisticated air management system. This will enable curators to bid for high-profile international touring exhibitions as well as allowing preparation and installation of new exhibits in a dedicated environment without impacting on the rest of the gallery.
Access has been improved for everybody with the help of a new lift and the opening up of the area between the art gallery and the library on the first floor. The Art Library has been relocated to be much handier as people move between the two buildings.
Cllr John Procter, executive member for Leisure, said:
“A lot of thought has gone into improving the experience for visitors at our wonderful art gallery. It is widely known that it houses one of the finest contemporary art collections in the country and we want a space to display our artworks worthy of that.
“New signage and accessibility will improve visitor flow around the building, making for a much more logical route around with natural links to the upstairs space. The Victorian Tiled Hall will undoubtedly be one of the most spectacular café settings in
It promises to be a real fairytale opening event, given the theme of the first exhibition since Phase 1 of the refurbishment programme. Fairytale: Contemporary Art and Enchantment features a modern-day take on traditional fairy tales by six international artists through paintings, still and moving photography, prints and sculpture. It will run until September 16th. There is also an exhibition entitled
The opening will also be marked by a host of activities from June 22nd-24th, including paper sculpting workshops, storytelling and poetry sessions (details from the Central Library).
*Once the official re-opening ceremony has taken place,
Monday & Tuesday ; Wednesday noon-8pm; Thursday, Friday & Saturday ; Sunday .