YORK MP Hugh Bayley has praised the refurbishment work at York Art Gallery, after a "behind the scenes tour" months ahead of its scheduled reopening.

Mr Bayley met the gallery manager Lorna Sergeant, chief executive of York Museums trust - who run the gallery, and Chief Operating Officer Michael Woodward yesterday to learn more about progress on the refurbishment.

He said: “York Art Gallery has a wonderful collection. It already punches above its weight but this fantastic renovation will expand the display space and allow the gallery to do more than ever before. Thanks to Arts Council funding, grants and generous donations, York Art Gallery will be able to show more of its own treasures and attract bigger and better exhibitions of fine art from other galleries and private collections.”

“It has been a real treat to go behind the scenes at the Museum and see a wonderful new gallery while it is being built. It will be a huge asset for the Museums Trust and for York. I congratulate everyone who is making this happen.”

The gallery closed last year ready for the £7.6 million overhaul, and will open its doors once again in summer next year, on exhibition spaces increased by 60 percent.

The work will open up the Victorian roof space and previously unused galleries, and will make space to exhibit the gallery's outstanding collection of British studio ceramics and to stage major national and international exhibitions.

It will also create new shops, an improved learning space and a new public green space.

Dr Barnes added: "We are very pleased that Hugh Bayley MP has come to look around the gallery to see the building work taking place. It will give a much clearer idea of the radical nature of the development at the gallery and the great benefit it will have both culturally and economically to the historical city of York."