SATURDAY is your chance to graffiti the walls, yarn bomb the exterior and dance in the main gallery at York Art Gallery’s Open Day before the Exhibition Square building closes for more than two years.

The gallery is being emptied of its arts collections for work to start on an £8 million development that will create 60 per cent more exhibition space and double the learning space.

For one day only, the public can use the blank canvas of the stripped gallery to make art from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free and the activities will take place all day.

“There’ll be the chance to paint and draw on the walls of the main gallery, paint the South Gallery with light and yarn bomb the exterior of the gallery and parts of Exhibition Square,” says York Museums Trust’s communications manager, Lee Clark.

“Among the other activities will be a craft cafe in the reception area, live music in the main gallery and the Northern Potters creating a clay version of York Art Gallery in the main gallery.”

Curators and other gallery staff will be on hand to discuss the gallery’s development and how it will look when it reopens in Easter 2015.

Gaby Lees, assistant curator of arts learning, says: “It isn’t very often you have a space like York Art Gallery completely empty. We thought it was a unique chance to invite people to come and hear about our plans for the future, but also make use of the space in an artistic way.

“Whether you fancy coming to paint on the walls in the main gallery, create a pom-pom for the yarn bombing of Exhibition Square or just to have a go at a craft while enjoying a cuppa, we hope you will have a go at something new or to speak to us about the exciting plans we have for the future.“

Fine Art students from York St John’s University will kick-start the painting of the gallery walls and the public will then be encouraged to add their contributions. The music in the gallery also will be provided by students from the university .

The aim of the yarn bombing is to use colourful wool to transform an object or area, in this case the gallery’s exterior columns and Exhibition Square. This can be by knitting, wrapping, creating pom-poms and any other imaginative way of using yarn.

Workshops to create the pieces will take place at the Craft Cafe in the reception area and other volunteers will be there to share their knowledge of further skills.

A Tag Tool, which uses light to paint, will be set up in the South Gallery by York company Glass Cannon. If you fancy having a go, you will be given a ticket and your number will be called when the tool is free for you to use.

In the main gallery, you can add to the Northern Potters’ clay replica of the art gallery exactly what you would like to see in there when it reopens in 2015.

In the Burton Gallery, the complete Bayers Tapestry – more than 200 metres in length – will be given its first public showing since being made by schools and community groups to celebrate York 800 last year. Between 2.30pm and 4.30pm, there will be an accompanying series of short performance pieces by York Theatre Royal Youth Theatre.

Contemporary quilts from the Quilters Guild will be on show in the Gallery of Pots, where demonstrations will take place too, while work from York Art Gallery’s community programme, Territories, can be viewed in The Studio.

Activities for the under-fives will be held in the Studio to launch York Museums Trust’s new early years sessions.

The Little Gallery will be the place to go to find out more about the gallery’s development and the plans for when it reopens.

The £8 million development of York Art Gallery will start in early 2013 and when finished will not only provide more exhibition space but also establish a Centre for British Studio Ceramics.

A suite of three ground-floor galleries will show more ambitious and high-profile exhibitions, and the twice-as-big learning space and new sculpture garden will link to York Museum Gardens.

A newly built first-floor South Gallery and a new gallery in the original Victorian roof space will become the home for the gallery’s ceramic collections.

*The National Lottery grant of £3.5 million had been previously ring-fenced for the project but has now been formally agreed by Arts Council England.

Further funding will come from a £2 million private legacy; £500,000 from City of York Council; £400,000 from the Anthony Shaw Trust; £250,000, Garfield Weston Foundation; £150,000, The Foyle Foundation; £100,000, Sir Siegmund Warburg's Voluntary Settlement; £50,000, the Feoffees of St Michael’s of Spurriergate; and £50,000 over three years, the Shepherd Group.