Whitworth Art Gallery to open in autumn

The Whitworth Art Gallery is to reopen this autumn, following a major redevelopment project. A substantial £15 million has been spent on updating the establishment, which is part of the University of Manchester, transforming the 125-year-old space into ‘a twenty first century gallery in the park’.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the state-of-the-art and expansive revamp has been delivered by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects). The gallery will open on October 25th 2014 with a major exhibition of the work of Cornelia Parker, one the most successful and interesting contemporary artists working today.
One of the standout aspects of the initiative has been the construction of a graceful, stainless steel/brick extension, which has resulted in the creation of two extra wings that extends into the park from the rear of the nineteenth century building.
The overall expansion is very welcome, allowing the gallery to show bigger, better and more thorough exhibitions, as well as allowing it the room to properly ‘share and care’ for its collection of over 55,000 historical and contemporary works of art.
Dr Maria Balshaw, director of Whitworth Art Gallery, said that for a long time she and her colleagues have been of the opinion that the gallery and park “should be a unified space” for visitors to experience and enjoy.
The end result of the redevelopment, she continued, pays tribute to that idea, adding that Parker’s show is an apt way to kick off a new era in the gallery, which remains nevertheless committed to displaying “marvellous, eclectic art”.
Stuart McKnight of MUMA said: “The brief for Whitworth Art Gallery offered a unique opportunity to capture the qualities of the surrounding landscape. The extension not only connects with the park, creating an outdoor gallery – an Art garden – it also acts as a pressure relief allowing us to reconfigure and rationalise the existing building.”
Parker, who is best known for iconic works such as old Dark Matter; An Exploded View (1991), has been busy working with scientists at the University of Manchester on new work.
Most notably, she has been collaborating with the Russian-British physicist Kostya Novoselov, who, along with fellow physicist Andre Geim, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for his efforts in grapheme.
Along with Parker, other exhibitions forming the opening programme include Cai Guo-Qiang’s Unmanned Nature; an investigation into the colour green; a curated selection of images from the photographer Johnnie Shand Kydd; and two shows dedicated to works kindly donated to the gallery by the Karpidas Foundation.
“This is a significant development for Whitworth Art Gallery and we are pleased to be part of such a landmark project in the city,” said Alison Clark-Jenkins, northdirector at Arts Council England.
“Our capital investment funding supports organisations to develop resilience by giving them the right buildings and equipment to deliver their work, and to become more sustainable. We are looking forward to seeing this new phase of the gallery develop and further contribute to the world class cultural offer in Manchester.”
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