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Gallery is the jewel in the cultural crown


By David Porter


Visitors to the redeveloped Aberdeen Art Gallery have been promised a world class experience as the £34.6million project was unveiled to give a first glimpse of the completed venue.

Anticipation is building in the final countdown to the full public opening of the jewel in Aberdeen’s cultural crown which takes place as of Monday, November 4.

A special open day is also taking place on Saturday for the public for some 5500 ticket holders.

Aberdeen Art Gallery is home to one of the finest collections in the UK, including works by important Scottish artists, designers and makers such as Henry Raeburn, Joan Eardley, Samuel Peploe, Rachel McLean, Bill Gibb and James Cromar Watt, as well as nationally and internationally-acclaimed artists including Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Claude Monet.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “From the outset the ambition was to create a world class visitor attraction and we are proud to have delivered that for the city and region.

“The redeveloped Aberdeen Art Gallery will serve generations of residents and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from at home and abroad each year, providing a fitting home for the world-renowned collections we hold.”

The redevelopment, designed by Hoskins Architects, has dramatically increased the amount of display space for the nationally recognised collection, with the number of galleries increasing from 11 to 19, with a further three galleries presenting a programme of regularly changing special exhibitions.

The number of items from the permanent collection on display has increased from 370 in 2015 to 1080 in the redeveloped venue.

Exhibition specialists Studioarc have been responsible for the design of the galleries, digital strategy and signage.

The project’s major funders are Aberdeen City Council, which has pledged £14.6m from capital funds, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a £10m contribution.

BP has donated £1m to the redevelopment project, with the BP Galleries to host three national and international exhibitions a year, and the UK Government awarded £1.5m from the HM Treasury Libor funds to support the major renovations in the Remembrance Hall. The total from the ongoing public fundraising programme, which is supported by the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Development Trust,currently sits at £4.8m.

Visitor research has helped shape a fresh new approach to displaying the collection.

The displays explore artists’ ideas and inspiration, their creative processes and the materials they use.

A wide range of artforms and media, the use of colour, hands-on interactives, music, innovative display methods and engaging interpretive information combine to create a range of experiences, moods and stories for visitors.

The project includes investment in the fabric of the buildings including a re-imagined Remembrance Hall, refurbished Cowdray Hall, new exhibition and collection display galleries, improved visitor facilities and an enhanced activity programme.

Caroline Clark, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland, said: “I’m delighted that the north-east of Scotland now has a world-class gallery worthy of the exceptional art works it houses and that’s in a large part down to players of The National Lottery.

“Wonderful new exhibition spaces have been cleverly re-designed so that they bring the city’s treasures to life and are accessible to all.

“They will inspire visitors from near and far to explore the works of outstanding Scottish and international artists and the stories behind those collections.”

From Monday regular opening times will be 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

Admission is free.

The 130-year old Category-A listed building and its streetscape have been re-designed to meet the needs of all visitors, creating level access throughout and a passenger lift in addition to accessible toilets on all floors and a Changes Places Toilet which incorporates a height adjustable adult-sized changing bench and a hoist system.

Other features include Induction hearing loops at points throughout the building, a British Sign Language (BSL) events programme beginning in December and a programme of Visual Description Tours from 2020.

Dementia-Friendly events and will also be hosted and quiet time throughout the gallery will be designated on a Monday afternoon.

For further information visit www.aagm.co.uk



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