The Lady Lever Art Gallery will celebrate the reopening of its new South End galleries with a free programme of Easter fun for all visitors to enjoy.
Opening on Good Friday, 25 March 2016, the new galleries have been returned to their original architectural glory following a £2.8m major development project, part funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
From hands-on crafts and messy play to face painting and balloon modelling, Easter marks the start of an exciting programme of activities for families, including Early Years. A series of free talks and tours for adults will also begin in March, exploring both the restoration project and the impressive South End collections.
The new galleries and opening events programme have been designed to encourage visitors of all ages to enjoy William Hesketh Lever's internationally-renowned collections, in line with his belief that “art is within the reach of all of us.”
Jo Keenan, Education Manager at the Lady Lever Art Gallery, said:
“The new galleries tell the story of Lever’s collections in an engaging and imaginative way, bringing star objects to the forefront to reveal their significance and beauty. We’ve also introduced a number of interactive points, where visitors can get hands-on with items from the collection.
“We’ve been working closely with schools and community groups throughout the duration of the project. The groups have been inspired to create some wonderful artworks of their own as a result, which we’re looking forward to displaying in our Reflections exhibition, which opens on 18 March.”
The galleries, which closed for the refurbishment in November 2014, house more than 1,500 objects, including the best collection of Wedgwood jasperware in the world, one of the finest collections of Chinese porcelain in Europe and outstanding 18th century paintings, furniture and sculpture.
Younger visitors can take inspiration from Lever and build their own gallery using magnetic building blocks, or take a seat at a fun tea party, complete with a Wedgwood-inspired tea set. Families can also pick up a sketch book trail, encouraging them to look out for a number of fascinating objects to draw as they explore the galleries.
Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said:
"The new South End galleries are a true representation of Lever's remarkable vision. He believed that art should be an inspiration to all, and the rooms in this spectacular space were re-imagined with this message at heart.
"We've reversed some of the changes that were made to the South End in the 1960s, opening up the galleries to allow us to display Lever's outstanding treasures in the best possible way. We're incredibly excited to reveal the new galleries to visitors and hope that they'll enjoy exploring the collections in new and inspiring ways."
A number of architectural changes have been made to the galleries in order to return them to their impressive former grandeur, including the opening up of original doorways to improve circulation within the galleries.
The striking, original double-height spaces with barrel vaulted ceilings have also been revealed by removing the low, suspended ceilings that were installed in the 1960s. The new galleries boast an array of beautiful period features, from elaborate plasterwork architraves and skirting, cast from the original designs, to parquet flooring throughout.
New glazed doors provide picturesque views of Port Sunlight village from the South End, while innovative architectural lighting highlights some of the Gallery’s most beautiful and iconic features, including the South End glass dome.
An exhibition of artwork created by local school and community groups will accompany the reopening. Reflections (18 March – 5 June 2016) will display a number of works inspired by the South End collections, including paintings, collages and ceramics.
The scheme has been funded through donations, corporate sponsorship and major grants, including a generous grant of £1.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said:
“It’s great to see the south galleries returned to their former glory, creating a fantastic setting for one of the most stunning fine and decorative art collections in the UK. The Lady Lever Art Gallery demonstrates the leading role heritage plays in making this area such a special place to live in and visit and I’m delighted to see it go from strength to strength, thanks to National Lottery investment.”
2016 is set to be a memorable year in the Lady Lever’s history. Shortly after the much-anticipated South End reopening, the Gallery will host a major new exhibition of Picasso linocuts (24 June 2016 – 8 January 2017), acquired by the British Museum with support from the Art Fund.
Free family events
See, make, do
25, 28 March, and 5, 13 April, 1-4pm
Celebrate the reopening of the South End galleries with a craft session led by our education team. For accompanied children aged ten years and under.
4 and 11 April, 2-4pm
Explore the Gallery’s handling collection with the education team.
Lady Lever tour
5 April, 1-4pm (at intervals)
A family friendly introduction to the reopened galleries, hosted by a costumed interpreter.
5 April, 1-4pm (at intervals)
Try junk drumming using a variety of drums. Suitable for accompanied children aged seven years and over.
Story and rhyme time
5 April, 11.30am-12 noon
13 April, 11-11.30am
Join us for story and rhyme fun for children aged five years and under, hosted by the Wirral Children’s Centre.
5 and 13 April, 1-4pm
Pick up a ticket from the welcome desk to have your face painted at the Gallery.
Reflections - see, make, do
6, 7, 12 and 14 April, 1-4pm
Make your own work of art inspired by the Reflections exhibition. For accompanied children aged ten years and under.
13 April, 1-4pm
Request a balloon creation to take home.
13 April, 12.30-3.30pm
Find out about animals including sheep, hens and ducks when a mini farm visits the Gallery!
13 April, 10.30-11am and 11.30am-12 noon
Join Moo Music for movement, story and fun. Suitable for children aged six months to five years.
Art play for under fives
18 and 25 April, 10am
Bring along the little ones for creative play activities.
Family art club
30 April, 11am and 2pm
Learn creative new skills at our family workshop, for children aged between 7 and 12. Pre-booking is essential. To reserve your place, visit: www.familyartclubladylever.eventbrite.com
** Collect a ticket on the day
Free adult talks
29 March and 27 April, 2pm
Explore Reflections, an exhibition showcasing artwork produced by local school and community groups, with Siobhan Cull from our education team.
South End restoration tour
30 March, 3-4pm
Join Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries, to learn about the work that has taken place to restore the galleries back to their former glory.
21 April, 2-3pm
Join art historian Julie Robson for a closer look at our renowned 19thcentury sculptures.
Chinese and Chinoiserie collections tour
28 April, 2.30-3.30pm
Join Pauline Rushton, Curator of Costume and Textiles, for a fascinating tour around our newly refurbished Chinese and Chinoiserie galleries.
Open daily 10am-5pm
Lady Lever Art Gallery
Port Sunlight Village, Wirral, CH62 5EQ
Telephone 0151 478 4136
About the Lady Lever Art Gallery
The Lady Lever Art Gallery houses one of the UK’s greatest collections of fine and decorative art. An extensive programme of restoration and improvement is currently underway in the South End of the Gallery. The £2.8m project will see 500 square metres of gallery space transformed. The galleries will be returned to their original architectural design and more than 1,500 objects will be redisplayed, including the best collection of Wedgwood jasperware in the world, one of the finest collections of Chinese porcelain in Europe and outstanding 18th century paintings, furniture and sculpture. The scheme will be funded through donations, corporate sponsorship and major grants. This includes generous grants from the following donors:
The Heritage Lottery Fund
Lord Leverhulme’s Charitable Trust
DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund
Garfield Weston Foundation
The Headley Trust
J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust
Professor Phil Redmond CBE and Mrs Alexis Redmond MBE
The Granada Foundation
Charles Hayward Foundation
The Henry Moore Foundation
Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement
29th May 1961 Charitable Trust
Andrew and Liz Collinge
For more information on the project, visit www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/leverplans
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk @heritagelottery
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.