One of England's most important galleries has now reopened after a huge refurbishment. The Ferens gallery in Hull has been closed for 16 months while it underwent £5.2 million worth of essential work.
Part of the refurb was paid for by Hull council, which said that cutting funding to culture was "false economy", even though it has made cuts in other areas over the last year. The council's help has seen the gallery's lighting, temperature and humidity systems revamped, ensuring all art on display is properly protected. This work was seen as vital to protect the world-class art that will be shown here in the future.
The investment in the gallery has already started to make its mark on the city, which was named the UK City of Culture 2017. Its newest attraction was unveiled on Thursday, January 12th, marking 100 years since TR Ferens purchased the land that the gallery now stands in.
The gallery showed off its restored 14th-century gold panel painting, Christ Between Saints Paul and Peter by Pietro Lorenzetti. This painting was kept in the UK by the government, which put an export bar on it so it could not be bought by a foreign buyer.
As well as its new star attraction, the gallery will have its permanent collection on show all year round, which includes a number of important pieces by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Frans Hals and Mark Wallinger, among others.
This year will also bring a number of different temporary exhibitions to the Ferens, giving the people of and visitors to Hull a chance to see some incredible pieces of art. Exhibitions lined up already include Francis Bacon: Nervous System and one featuring the work of sculptor Ron Mueck. The Shipbuilder and his Wife by Rembrandt will also be shown after being loaned to the gallery from the Queen's royal collection.
While Hull Council has been criticised by some residents for maintaining its cultural budget, the council has stood by its decision. Darren Hale, deputy council leader, said: "We have managed to not just preserve but enhance our cultural offering. It has been a struggle. People say ‘why are the cuts not applied evenly?’
"But we see that investment in culture boosts the economy. To cut the culture budget would be a false economy. We spend £1.5m on galleries each year and we know that they bring in two or three times that amount to the local economy – hopefully much more than that this year. It’s a no-brainer,” reports the Guardian.