The £5.2 million redevelopment of Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery
- Credit: Archant
Major investment in a leading regional art gallery begins to pay off as Hull celebrates its year of culture.
More than 40,000 people flocked to one of Hull’s leading art galleries within the first two weeks of reopening after a multi-million pound refurbishment.
Ferens Art Gallery welcomed 10 times more visitors to the gallery compared to same period in 2015. This 1,000 per cent increase in numbers is unprecedented in the history of the gallery even following its extensive extension and refurbishment in 1992.
The gallery has undergone £5.2 million improvement project, the biggest in its history. The investment is part of Hull City Council’s £100million programme to improve the city’s cultural infrastructure and will ensure the gallery can continue to host world-class exhibitions in 2017 and beyond.
Deputy leader of Hull City Council, councillor Daren Hale, said the improvements made the Ferens a lighter, more exciting place to visit and ensured the gallery’s permanent collection and visiting exhibitions were presented in the very best environmental conditions. ‘This year residents and visitors will be able to see world renowned master works on display in Hull like never before. Since the beginning of the year we have shown the world what Hull can do and it is now the gallery’s time to shine,’ he added.
Martin Green, CEO and director Hull 2017, said: ‘The reopening of the Ferens Art Gallery is another exciting milestone in Hull’s year as UK City of Culture. Its refurbishment has been done sensitively, creating a wonderful backdrop to the gallery’s fine collection and enabling it to host even more great work from other major collections.
‘The Ferens is a star attraction for this city’s big year and, along with the other art spaces and public realm installations, reinforces Hull’s reputation as a must visit destination for visual arts.’
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There has been major investment in temperature, humidity and lighting systems across the site. In addition, there is a new, extended café and shop and a brand new children’s gallery.
The gallery is celebrating 100 years since Thomas Robinson Ferens purchased the plot of land on which the building now stands. For the first time the Christ between Saints Paul and Peter (c.1320), a rare 14th-century panel painting by Pietro Lorenzetti is on display, following a four-year conservation project at the National Gallery. It is being shown alongside early Italian Renaissance masterpieces on loan from national partners as part of the ‘Siena to Hull: a masterpiece revealed’.
The striking Francis Bacon; Nervous System exhibition including five notorious ‘Screaming Popes’ and his recognised masterpiece Head VI (1949) have joined the gallery’s permanent collection and will be on display until May 1st 2017.
Councillor Terry Geraghty, portfolio holder for culture and leisure and chair of Hull Culture and Leisure Limited, said: ‘We are staggered with the fantastic response the gallery has received since opening in January. The gallery is firmly on the cultural map and stands us in great stead for the upcoming weeks and months ahead when the gallery will bring more world-renowned art to the city for everyone to enjoy.
‘The extended opening hours on a Thursday evening and Sunday have been very well received and are attracting so many more people. Our staff are doing an excellent job in welcoming the huge crowds with help from a team of 2017 volunteers. We would like to thank all our visitors for their patience whilst waiting to enjoy the exhibitions on offer at the Ferens and Maritime Museum.’
Kirsten Simister, curator of art, added: ‘These amazing visitor numbers have completely blown the gallery team away. We are thrilled that the programme and collection redisplay are attracting so many people to the gallery. The new children’s gallery is also encouraging more families to explore and enjoy the gallery. There is so much more planned for the year and we are really excited for what is to come in 2017 and beyond.’
The Maritime Museum has also seen a huge increase in footfall. So far, since opening on January 1st the museum has welcomed over 36,000 people, with the Bowhead audio visual installation proving a big hit.
Entry is free to all museums and the art gallery, they are open: Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm and Sunday 11am – 4.30pm. The Maritime Museum and Ferens Art Gallery are also open until 7.30pm every Thursday.