The south end of the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight has been undergoing extensive refurbishment since the beginning of 2015 and is due to re-open to the public in Spring of 2016. Work is progressing well and we were delighted to have a tour of the area with the Lady Lever team including Director of Galleries, Sandra Penketh.
Many of the old features which were lost or hidden over the years have been unearthed, restored or re-created to bring back the splendour of the original 1926 vision. Many modern features are there too, of course, such as wi-fi in every room, led lighting (hidden inside the original light fittings) and various multi-media interactive displays to come later.
This area includes some of the galleries most popular displays such as the Wedgwood collection, the Chinese ceramics and Napoleon room. These have been sorely missed during the refurbishment but the public will be flooding back in even greater numbers next year.
The 500sqm of refurbished space includes the following galleries and public spaces:
- Eighteenth Century Room – including some of the most outstanding examples of English 18th century furniture in the country. The display in this room will explore female portraiture and the lifestyles of women during this period.
- Wedgwood Rooms – includes two interlinked rooms displaying the best collection of Wedgwood jasperware in the world.
- Napoleon Room – a dazzling display of furniture and artefacts related to Napoleon will be given new life as visitors will be able to get much closer to the objects.
- Chinese Rooms – two interlinked rooms that will demonstrate the importance and influence of Chinese ceramics on European art and taste.
- The South End Sculpture Gallery and Vestibule – refurbishment of the stunning south dome will create a dramatic backdrop for fine examples of Victorian and early 20th century sculpture. The plans for the south vestibule will connect the gallery with the architecture of the Port Sunlight village.
The new galleries will redisplay more than 1,500 objects, including the best collection of Wedgwood jasperware in the world, one of the finest collections of Chinese porcelain in Europe and outstanding 18th century paintings, furniture and sculpture. The project covers more than a quarter of the building.
The changes that have taken place to date have been designed to sympathetically restore the galleries to their original architectural design and splendour:
- Opening up original doorways to reveal key thoroughfares and improve circulation
- Revealing the original double-height spaces with barrel vaulted ceilings
- Provision of new architectural lighting to highlight original features, including the South End glass dome
- Installation of new glazed doors providing picturesque views of the village
- Installation of original parquet flooring
- Redecoration of the spaces in sympathetic period colours
- Repairing original elaborate plasterwork
- Extensive exterior cleaning of the building and the South End glass dome
All images by artinliverpool.com