Princess Royal Opens University of Liverpool Gallery

Photo: Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal inspects the Zoology collection

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to be there yesterday. The gallery & museum opens to the public on June 30th with many interesting items from the University’s collections followed in late summer by a Stuart Sutcliffe retrospective.

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has launched the only new gallery and museum to open in Liverpool during its year as European Capital of Culture.

The University of Liverpool’s Victoria Gallery and Museum (VGM) opened on Wednesday, 28 May 2008, following an £8.6 million restoration of the Victoria Building funded by the institution with philanthropic support.

Established in 1892, the Victoria Building inspired the term ‘redbrick university’ which became synonymous with the late 19th Century civic universities. It will now become the new home for art and heritage collections acquired by the University throughout its 100-year history and will be opened to members of the public for the first time as part of the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations.

The first floor of the building, originally used as office space and student common rooms, will contain the University’s art collections including early English watercolours, ceramics, fine art, silver and furniture. The Tate Hall, on the second floor, is best known to thousands of graduates of the University as the place they sat their exams. Originally created as a library using funds provided by sugar magnate Henry Tate, the hall will now house the University’s heritage collections.

Exhibitions in the Tate Hall will include dinosaur footprints, early X-rays by Charles Thurston Holland and the skeleton of the 1899 Grand National winner, Manifesto. The heritage collections also include some of Nature’s most unusual creatures, such as a Tasmanian devil and a particularly rare reptile from the southern hemisphere known as a Sphenodon.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Drummond Bone, said: “The Victoria Gallery and Museum is the University’s ‘gift’ to the city of Liverpool. Its striking red façade and gothic architecture have been much admired by the public and we look forward to welcoming them into the building to learn about the University’s groundbreaking contributions to research in areas such as anaesthesia, nuclear fission and the development of the radio.”

Paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby and JMW Turner will feature in the new gallery, as well as work by Jacob Epstein, Lucien Freud and Elizabeth Frink. The gallery will also be home to the largest collection of oil paintings by the seminal American wildlife artist John James Audubon outside the US.

As well as a striking new entrance on Ashton Street, there will also be a café and gift shop area, as well as a glass lift that will take visitors up the floors from inside the building’s clock tower.