Revealed after 40 years: Leeds Art Gallery’s ‘chamber of secrets’

Audience Development Officer for 
Leeds Art Gallery Lizzy Wilson views the uncovered ceiling at Leeds Art Gallery. 
9th August 2016
Audience Development Officer for Leeds Art Gallery Lizzy Wilson views the uncovered ceiling at Leeds Art Gallery. 9th August 2016
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Renovation work on Leeds Art Gallery has uncovered a spectacular roof space that has been hidden away for more than 40 years.

Workers carrying out essential repairs on the 128-year-old building were removing a false ceiling in one of the upper galleries when they discovered the majestic arched glazed structure, which had been boxed in since the 1970s.

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Gallery staff are now looking for ways to secure and renovate the new discovery - and that includes finding the additional cash which will be needed to help turn it into a new gallery space.

The find also means that the expected reopening of the gallery next Spring has now been pushed back to October 2017 due to “complicated work” needed to secure the arched roof.

The art gallery has been closed since January 10 while essential repairs to the original roof of the historic Victorian building were carried out.

Throughout the year, the gallery has instead been making extensive loans from its art collection and engaging audiences through external programmes.

Sarah Brown, programme curator at the gallery said: “Leeds Art Gallery is entering a really exciting phase of development as we plan for our reopening.

“Uncovering this exciting new space, which has so much potential, we are keen that this additional refurbishment goes ahead and results in a gallery that will allow our audiences and visitors to the city to be amazed by the transformation of a much loved building when we reopen in autumn 2017.”

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This beautiful new roof space is a truly remarkable find and, much like the discovery of the Tiled Hall just a few years ago, is further evidence of what a unique architectural gem Leeds Art Gallery is.

“The gallery is one of a kind and a cornerstone of the city’s cultural offering, so it is crucial that we make sure the building is protected, preserved and secured now so that future generations can appreciate not only the world class collection, but the many magnificent features of the building itself.”

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