Leeds Art Gallery re-opens after nearly two years
Displays can once again be viewed following the building’s closure in January 2016 for essential repairs and a major refurbishment.
While work was underway, a barrel-shaped glazed roof in the first-floor Central Court Gallery was discovered.
This structure had remained hidden above a ceiling for more than 40 years.
Sarah Brown, principal keeper at the gallery, said:“The refurbishment of the original Victorian glass roof has enabled us to create light-filled first floor galleries and present the world-class collection as it has never been seen before.
“We have revealed the original stunning Central Court for the first time in over fifty years to create a beautiful new gallery for visitors to enjoy.”
The new space is marked by the presentation of British sculptor Alison Wilding RA’s renowned sculpture, Arena (2000), recently gifted from the Contemporary Art Society.
Also marking the reopening are the works of influential German artist Joseph Beuys (1921 - 1986) are exhibited in Leeds for the first time since 1983. Significant works - such as one of the last sculptures made by Beuys, Scala Napoletana (1985) - feature across the three ground-floor galleries alongside works on paper and vitrines.
The opening programme also features the presentation of new acquisitions by leading contemporary artists.
The building on The Headrow, which is liked to the Central Library, closed so that essential roof repairs and lighting work could take place.
Around 100 years of water ingress was also affecting the building, with mould needing to be treated.
But after the gallery’s supporters raised £17,000 in three days through a crowdfunding effort, artist Lothar Götz installed his colourful piece to brighten up the original Victorian staircase. Works have been re-hung over the last eight weeks in preparation for the opening.
Leader of Leeds City Council, Coun Judith Blake, said: “I’m really excited – it’s an absolute classic of its kind.
“It has one of the most significant collections of art in the country. To be able to show it in the refurbished art gallery is very special indeed.”
She added: “Now that we are moving full steam ahead with our 2023 European Capital of Culture bid, it is brilliant to see the return of Leeds Art Gallery which, internationally recognised and celebrated, will offer another timely reminder of why our bid is so varied and strong.”