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£6m deal to open up secret ‘art gallery’
ARCHITECTS have been chosen to start work on plans for an ambitious £6 million refurbishment of York Art Gallery which would open up a “secret” gallery to the public.
Ushida Findlay, which has worked on major cultural and heritage projects in Britain and abroad, will work closely with York Museums Trust to create a plan so the trust can begin applying for the necessary funds. The trust revealed yesterday that about £1.5 million towards the £6 million total cost has already been secured, thanks to a generous bequest from an anonymous benefactor.
“The trust has already informally approached other funding bodies and will formally submit bids when the plans are finalised later in the year,” said a spokesman.
“If the funding is found and planning permission is granted, the gallery will close for the refurbishment in late 2012 and it is hoped work would begin in spring 2013, with the gallery reopening in 2014.”
The project includes:
• Opening a new “secret” gallery in the original roof space of the main gallery, which is hidden from view by a glass ceiling on the first floor, creating a large and naturally lit space.
• The proposed relocation of the City Archives, allowing the gallery to expand its exhibition and learning spaces.
• Creating a connection with gardens at the rear of the gallery, creating opportunities for outdoor exhibitions and performance.
The trust’s plans to site a big wheel in the Museum Gardens, behind the gallery, which are due to be resubmitted to planners this summer following a bat survey of the site, should also help raise funds towards the redevelopment, as the trust will share in the wheel profits.
Trust chief executive Janet Barnes said she was delighted to have appointed Ushida Findlay, which has been involved in projects such as the Art Foundation of Doha in Qatar and the Truss Wall House in Japan, and looked forward to working with it on the ambitious proposals.
She said: “York Art Gallery is lucky enough to have a tremendous collection for a gallery of its size and these exciting developments would allow us much more display space and much improved public facilities.
“We will now start drawing up more detailed plans which are financially realistic so we can begin formally approaching funding bodies.”
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