Gallery in the Park
MUMA's design for the Whitworth's new courtyard section, looking towards the park.
See pictures of the 21st century development and follow our progress at the Gallery in the Park blog
Whitworth breaks ground on 21st century development
Whitworth Art Gallery, at The University of Manchester, broke ground on 19 December 2012 on a development project, which will transform the 120 year old gallery creating a new experience for visitors.
The development will connect the existing 19th century building with the Whitworth Park around it. Designed by leading architects MUMA, the new Whitworth will feature an elegant contemporary extension of two new wings, together with extensive refurbishment of the current space which will reveal hidden areas of the historic building. The project will enable the Whitworth to meet the needs of current and future audiences, double the exhibition space and public areas, protect and display more of its collections and make them accessible to the widest possible audience.
The two stunning wings extend the gallery further into the park and create a new art garden and park side entrance. A glass and steel wing sits close to the trees on the park side, housing a first floor 'café in the trees' and a ground floor learning studio that will open on to the art garden. A brick wing on the street side houses a new landscape gallery with views over the park and a ground floor study centre. The wings are linked by a promenade that wraps the back of the original building, giving views over the park and, at the ground floor level, access to the collections, which are housed in a new environmentally sustainable collections centre.
Within the original building, a suite of three major exhibition spaces are created by restoring the three back galleries to their 1908 barrel-ceiling form. Public areas are vastly increased by restoring the grand hall on the first floor and giving full public access for the first time to the glorious Edwardian staircases that lead up to the grand hall. A new shop, in the entrance hall, will allow the Gallery to offer a wide range of objects to buy, drawn from the collections and makers in the region.
Director Dr Maria Balshaw says:
'This development will give Whitworth Art Gallery a building to match its outstanding exhibition and public programme, and to offer a much richer and more engaging visitor experience. It is hugely exciting to be at the point now of beginning the building work. It has taken many years of hard work by many people and we are extremely grateful for the support of the HLF, The University of Manchester and many other funders in making this happen.'
The new £15 million development is made possible by major funding primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund who awarded £8million towards the long-awaited extension, The University of Manchester and Arts Council England. Thanks also to Trusts and Foundations and to the Friends of the Whitworth.
Sara Hilton, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said:
'The Heritage Lottery Fund award will bring a vital transformation to the Whitworth Art Gallery, opening it up to the park and its neighbouring communities, and offering new opportunities for visitors to explore and enjoy. The Gallery will be revitalised, creating new spaces that will allow more of these magnificent collections to be shared with the public.'
The contractors ISG are on site now and the building will be developed rapidly over the next several months towards a grand opening in June 2014.
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