Regional gallery has long been a description that doesn’t really give one of Yorkshire’s premier galleries the merit it deserves. National in its intentions, York Art Gallery contains paintings spanning more than 600 years with works ranging from 14th century Italian panels to 20th century works by LS Lowry and David Hockney. In 2024, the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square in London notes its bicentennial with its National Treasures programme celebrating across the country with a clever idea – 12 regional galleries will host one of its masterpieces, of which York Art Gallery is one. For the duration of the displays, 35 million people – more than half the UK population – will be within an hour’s journey of a National Gallery masterpiece. Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond will be the central feature of a major new exhibition at York Art Gallery to celebrate this occasion.

With the Monet painting as its centrepiece in York, many other works have also been carefully chosen – some from the gallery’s own collection, some on loan. The exhibition will reveal how Monet’s radical approach to painting had, and continues to have, an enduring influence on artists. These include Water Lilies with Japanese Bridge by Roy Lichtenstein, work by Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige, and a commission by the artist Michaela Yearwood-Dan who produces blowsy florals with a dash of the every day.

Great British Life: Utagawa Hiroshige, Kanazawa in Kaga Province. Utagawa Hiroshige, Kanazawa in Kaga Province. (Image: York Museums Trust)

Dr Beatrice Bertram, senior curator at York Art Gallery, says: ‘We are delighted to be hosting this beautiful and much-loved painting by Monet as part of the National Gallery’s Bicentenary events. Taking our cue from the artist’s lush canvas, our exhibition will explore open-air painting, celebrate the enjoyment of nature, landscapes and gardens, and connect indoor and outdoor spaces. In the gardens nearby, Monet has inspired us to plant a wildflower meadow, and we’ll be encouraging audiences to get creative and engage in open-air sketching. We can’t wait to welcome visitors to York to see the painting and exhibition for themselves.’

Keen as ever to engage local communities, the York Art Gallery team is offering a limited number of Open-Air Art Packs to York community groups, to encourage people to get creative outdoors. The packs contain materials including oil pastels, pencils, sharpener and erasers, a small sketchbook, and a booklet with information about Monet and open-air painting. The gallery team hope that the results will be shared on social media.

Great British Life: York Art Gallery. York Art Gallery. (Image: York Museums Trust)

In addition, visitors are encouraged to enjoy the Museum Gardens next to the gallery which includes a family trail which links back to the exhibition through art frames. Inside the gallery there will be guided meditation and wellbeing workshops using artworks as inspiration and yoga classes overlooking the flower meadow that has been planted in the artist's garden.

Monet’s The Water-Lily Pond is on show at York Art Gallery 10-5pm Wednesday to Sunday 10 May to 8 September 2024. Supported by wealth management company JM Finn and Little Greene Paint Company as the official paint partner. See for ticket prices and details.