Refurbished Whitworth Gallery attracts 18,000 visitors on opening weekend

The Whitworth Art Gallery reopened on 14 February after a £15 million refurbishment that has transformed the 125 year old gallery and fully integrated it with the park. Nearly 18,000 visitors joined in the celebrations over the weekend – 2,000 more visitors than the gallery would record in an average month prior to closing.

 The Whitworth Art Gallery reopened on 14 February after a £15 million refurbishment that has transformed the 125 year old gallery and fully integrated it with the park. Nearly 18,000 visitors joined in the celebrations over the weekend – 2,000 more visitors than the gallery would record in an average month prior to closing.

The Arts Council helped to fund the redevelopment with a grant of £1.8 million through our Capital programme and £100,000 for the Art Garden through our Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme. The Whitworth is also funded through our National portfolio and Major partner museums programmes.

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said, “Renewing and reopening the Whitworth is a remarkable achievement and we’re delighted that the Arts Council has been able to support it through two of our funding programmes. Everything about the building, the park, the commissions and the collections is both impressive and wonderfully grounded. To have nearly 18,000 visitors over the first weekend is clearly just the start of long term success, as the Whitworth returns to be fundamental element in the cultural life of Manchester, the northwest and nationally.”

Led by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects), the work has doubled the public space and created new facilities including expanded gallery spaces, a study centre, learning studio and a collections centre.

Highlights from the re-opening programme include:

    • A major solo exhibition by acclaimed British contemporary artist Cornelia Parker. Showcasing her signature piece Dark Matter – An Exploded View (1991), it also shows two new works including War Room, a room with its walls and ceilings draped with leftover punched out red sheets from the factory that makes the 45 million Remembrance poppies sold every autumn. Friday night’s opening event ended with Blakean Abstract, a new ‘meteor shower’ firework display, created by Cornelia and Nobel Prize winning scientist Kostya Novoselov

 

  • Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang‘s gunpowder installation Unmanned Nature is displayed alongside a large reflective water pool in the new Landscape Gallery

 

 

  • Johnnie Shand Kydd‘s never-seen-before photographs of Young British Artists on the Greek Island of Hydra in the 1990s

Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth commented, “We welcomed an astonishing 18,000 visitors to the newly transformed Whitworth over the reopening weekend. The redevelopment has allowed us to double the public space and create a 21st century gallery in the park for the people of Manchester. None of which could of been achieved without the support of Arts Council England and our other generous funders. By supporting the Whitworth, the Arts Council has supported the local community, who over the weekend showed just how special this place is.”

More images from the opening weekend can be seen here.

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