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Centenary celebrations for Lady Lever Art Gallery

Posted on Monday 24th March 2014
The Lady Lever Art Gallery with the fountain in front

Lady Lever Art Gallery © National Museums Liverpool

Foundation stone anniversary as gallery looks to the future

On 25 March 1914 King George V laid the foundation stone for what was to become one of the UK’s finest art venues, the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

The King laid the stone by remote control. By pressing a button on a scale model of Port Sunlight village in Hulme Hall, 500 yards away, he activated an on-site winch that lowered the stone into position. At the same time this working model enacted the event for spectators in Hulme Hall.

Delayed by World War 1, the gallery wasn’t opened until 16 December 1922, when it revealed a wealth of outstanding treasures.

The Gallery’s collection, put together by William Hesketh Lever, first Viscount Leverhulme boasts paintings dating from the mid 15th to early 20th century, including masterpieces by Gainsborough, Turner and Constable, and a stunning Pre-Raphaelite collection.

Added to this its display of Wedgwood is unrivalled anywhere in the world; contains some of the finest examples of 18th century English furniture in the country; one of the best Chinese porcelain collections in Europe, and many more exquisite, rare and fascinating pieces.

Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries said: “Lever’s collection is an outstanding achievement for one man but it is perhaps even more remarkable that he had the vision to establish the Lady Lever as a way of sharing it.

“Lever passionately believed that art could be a positive influence in people’s lives. One hundred years on from the laying of the foundation stone the gallery has seen its various changes but it remains true to his original belief that art can be an inspiration to everyone. It’s in this spirit that we’re taking the gallery through its next exciting stage of development.”

Following initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), National Museums Liverpool is hoping to make £2.8m worth of  improvements, which will see 500 square metres of gallery space transformed and returned to its original architectural splendour.

The scheme, which promises a revamp of more than a quarter of the venue, would also see more than 1,700 items of fine and decorative art redisplayed and new educational resources developed for local schools and groups.

Sandra Penketh continued: “The redevelopment will restore the South End galleries to their former glory and breathe new life into the world-class exhibits.

“As we work on fundraising for the project and developing our plans we are keeping Lever’s original aims for the gallery at the forefront, ensuring the gallery continues to inspire visitors for another 100 years.”

For more information on the project and how you can support it visit our website:
www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/leverplans

Exhibitions:

Turner: travels, light and landscape.
(Until 1 June)

Featuring some 30 watercolours, paintings and prints, this exhibition is drawn from National Museums Liverpool’s own Turner collection, one of the most outstanding in the country.

The exhibition explores Turner’s endeavours to challenge the widely-held assumption that landscape was inferior to historical painting. It was in doing this that he produced some of the most thrilling, evocative paintings ever known.

Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris
(20 June – 21 September 2014)

Jane Burden Morris (1839 - 1914) was the wife of poet and designer William Morris, and the favoured model of Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In his maturity Rossetti drew and painted Jane with obsessive intensity and she was cast in many roles - as Beatrice, Pandora, Proserpine, Astarte.

Whether in direct or symbolic guise, Jane’s features are depicted with sombre intensity that offer a glimpse into Rossetti’s troubled soul. This exhibition brings together compelling examples of this pictorial obsession, together with contrasting images of Jane as herself reflecting her actual life and interests, beyond modelling.

Notes to editors

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 35,000 projects with more than £5.5bn across the UK.  www.hlf.org.uk.
Laura Bates, HLF press office, 020 7591 6027 lbates@hlf.org.uk   

*First-round pass

Heritage Grants* applications are assessed in two rounds.  A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.

About National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.

We attract more than 2.7 million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

The Lady Lever Art Gallery houses one of the UK’s finest collections of fine and decorative art. It has the best collection of Wedgwood jasperware anywhere in the world and its collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings is internationally renowned.

Lady Lever Art Gallery Port Sunlight Village, Wirral L62 5EQ    Admission FREE
Open 10am-5pm every day    Information 0151 478 4136
Website www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

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