The laying of the Lady Lever Art Gallery's foundation stone 25 March 1922. Image © Leverhulme Family Archive The 25th March marks an exciting anniversary for us - 100 years since King George V laid the gallery’s foundation stone! The King used an interesting method to be at the heart of the action, without muddying his boots. 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 the hall! Delayed by World War 1, the Lady Lever Art Gallery didn’t open its doors until more than 7 years later, when it was officially opened by the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Beatrice on 16 December 1922. Over the last century the gallery has seen various changes but has always held at its heart Lever’s belief in the importance of art:
This vision is the drive behind our current redevelopment plans for the gallery, which will see 500 square metres of gallery space transformed and returned to its original architectural splendour. The scheme, which has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, promises a revamp of more than a quarter of the venue and would allow around 1,700 items of fine and decorative art to be redisplayed and new educational resources developed for local schools and groups.
Art has always been to me a stimulating influence; it has taught me without upbraiding me; elevated me without humbling me; and appealed to me because of this fact, that only the best and truest in art survives… Art can be to everyone an inspiration. (Lord Lever at the opening of the Lady Lever Art Gallery in 1922.)
There is also the opportunity for you to give your support. For £100, our Centenary Club offers the chance for you to make an enduring dedication towards the Gallery's development and contribute directly to improving the space for all visitors. For more information on how you can support the redevelopment please visit the website. A new photographic exhibition ‘The Royal Visit’ celebrating 100 years since the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Port Sunlight is on display at the Port Sunlight Museum.
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. (Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries.)