First look: What you will see in the new York Art Gallery, transformed inside and out

Melanie by Grayson Perry, first shown in the Channel 4 series Who Are You? Photographs: Richard McDougall / Chris Titley, YorkMix
22 Jul 2015 @ 9.23 pm
| News

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?

York Art Gallery

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

Art gallery website

The Madsen Galleries

The three paintings of York by LS Lowry, displayed together for the first time, with curator Lorna Frost
The three paintings of York by LS Lowry, displayed together for the first time, with curator Lorna Frost

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.

Looking through to works inspired by the Lycett Green Collection
Looking through to works inspired by the Lycett Green Collection
Well hello there! Pinning Down Beauty by Kerry Jameson
Well hello there! Pinning Down Beauty by Kerry Jameson
Curator Eloise Donnelly with the gallery's oldest painting by Bernardo Daddi
Curator Eloise Donnelly with the gallery’s oldest painting by Bernardo Daddi

“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.

Susie MacMurray with her commissioned work Halo
Susie MacMurray with her commissioned work Halo

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.

Burton Gallery

NUD 4 by renowned Brit artist Sarah Lucas (2009)
NUD 4 by renowned Brit artist Sarah Lucas (2009)

This work by Young British Artist Sarah Lucas is, says the gallery, “suggestive of human limbs, perhaps in an embrace or even bodies wrestling”.

A wall dedicated to York artist William Etty, featuring Preparing For A Fancy Dress Ball as its centrepiece (1833)
A wall dedicated to York artist William Etty, featuring Preparing For A Fancy Dress Ball as its centrepiece (1833)
Doodle Bug by Rose Wylie
Doodle Bug by Rose Wylie
Richard Jack's poignant Return To The Front
Richard Jack’s poignant Return To The Front

This painting in the Burton Gallery by Richard Burton precedes an exhibition coming later at the gallery featuring First World War art.

A bust of the singer Paul Robeson
A bust of the singer Paul Robeson
You can have fun chilling out on this portrait chair
You can have fun chilling out on this portrait chair
For the gallery's little visitors, a chance to play with some felt
For the gallery’s little visitors, a chance to play with some felt

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 talks about the exhibition he has curated, The Lumber Room: Unimagined Treasures
York artist Mark Hearld talks about the exhibition he has curated, The Lumber Room: Unimagined Treasures

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.

Rocking horses and portraits in the Lumber Room
Rocking horses and portraits in the Lumber Room
A view of the Lumber Room and its eclectic collection
A view of the Lumber Room and its eclectic collection
York horses by Mark Hearld
York horses by Mark Hearld
A seahorse from the collection in the Lumber Room
A seahorse from the collection in the Lumber Room
A detail from one of the paintings in Mark Hearld's exhibition
A detail from one of the paintings in Mark Hearld’s exhibition
Eye-eye… A detail from one of the artworks in the Lumber Room
Eye-eye… A detail from one of the artworks in the Lumber Room

Centre of Ceramic Art

There are 10,000 of them. We've counted (no we haven’t)
There are 10,000 of them. We’ve counted (no we haven’t)

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.

Clare Twomey talks about her work, Manifest: 10,000 hours
Clare Twomey talks about her work, Manifest: 10,000 hours
The wall of pots – thousands of ceramics ordered by a rainbow of colour
The wall of pots – thousands of ceramics ordered by a rainbow of colour
This thoughtful figurine features in one of ten cases in CoCA
This thoughtful figurine features in one of ten cases in CoCA
A room with plenty to view… the Anthony Shaw collection
A room with plenty to view… the Anthony Shaw collection

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.

A detail from one of the objects in the Anthony Shaw collection
A detail from one of the objects in the Anthony Shaw collection
This one seems happy to be here…
This one seems happy to be here…

Let’s go outside

CEO of York Museums Trust Janet Barnes on the new gallery
CEO of York Museums Trust Janet Barnes on the new gallery

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 new balcony at the gallery
The new balcony at the gallery
The gardens are beginning to take shape, and should be ready by autumn
The gardens are beginning to take shape, and should be ready by autumn
Still some work to do: the view from the new balcony showing the Abbey walls
Still some work to do: the view from the new balcony showing the Abbey walls
A view of the rear of the gallery, taken a few weeks earlier
A view of the rear of the gallery, taken a few weeks earlier
A new entrance and path joins Museum Gardens to the gallery
A new entrance and path joins Museum Gardens to the gallery
A new path takes you past the pavilion in Museum Gardens
A new path takes you past the pavilion in Museum Gardens
The distinctive tiles on the gallery extension
The distinctive tiles on the gallery extension

The art of food

The gathered media try out the food courtesy of Café No 8 who run the art gallery café
The gathered media try out the food courtesy of Café No 8 who run the art gallery café

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.