The Lady Lever Art Gallery is set to reveal its new South End galleries in a Good Friday opening on 25 March 2016 following a £2.8m major development project, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The new South End galleries have been returned to their original architectural glory as part of the improvement works, showcasing William Hesketh Lever’s internationally-renowned collections in a similarly impressive style to that employed by Lever when the gallery first opened in 1922.
The galleries, which closed for the refurbishment in November 2014, house 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.
Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said: “The new South End galleries are a true representation of Lever’s remarkable vision. He believed that art should be an inspiration to all, and the rooms in this spectacular space were re-imagined with this message at heart.
“We’ve reversed some of the changes that were made to the South End in the 1960s, opening up the galleries to allow us to display Lever’s outstanding treasures in the best possible way. We’re incredibly excited to reveal the new galleries to visitors and hope that they’ll enjoy exploring the collections in new and inspiring ways.”
A number of architectural changes have been made to the galleries in order to return them to their impressive former grandeur, including the opening up of original doorways to improve circulation within the galleries.
The striking, original double-height spaces with barrel vaulted ceilings have also been revealed by removing the low, suspended ceilings that were installed in the 1960s.
New glazed doors provide picturesque views of Port Sunlight village from the South End, while innovative architectural lighting highlights some of the Gallery’s most beautiful and iconic features, including the South End glass dome.
The new galleries boast an array of beautiful period features, from elaborate plasterwork architraves and skirting, cast from the original designs, to parquet flooring throughout.
An exhibition of artwork created by local school and community groups will accompany the re-opening. Reflections (18 March – 5 June 2016) will display a number of works inspired by the South End collections, including paintings, collages and ceramics.
The scheme has been funded through donations, corporate sponsorship and major grants, including a generous grant of £1.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
2016 looks set to be a memorable year in the Lady Lever’s history. Shortly after the much-anticipated South End re-opening, the Gallery will host a major new exhibition of Picasso linocuts (24 June 2016 – 8 January 2017).
This will be the first time that the prints have been displayed outside of the British Museum. The exhibition will feature prints from the Jacqueline Reading series – his wife and muse – and the Still Life under the Lamp series.
Visitors will be invited to discover the ‘progressive’ process of linocutting that Picasso explored in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This wonderfully bold and colourful exhibition will display pieces that are counted among Picasso’s most important works in linocut, acquired by the British Museum with support from the Art Fund.
Open daily 10am-5pm
Lady Lever Art Gallery
Port Sunlight Village, Wirral, CH62 5EQ