Aberdeen Art Gallery reopened to the public on 2 November 2019 following a £34.6 million redevelopment. This post features images of Aberdeen Art Gallery following the completion of that project.
The neoclassical building that houses Aberdeen Art Gallery first opened in 1885. It was designed by Alexander Marshall McKenzie, the Elgin-born architect whose other notable projects include Australia House and the Waldorf Hotel in London.
The gallery closed in 2015 for the redevelopment, which was designed by Hoskins Architects. Aberdeen Art Gallery now has 19 galleries to display its sizable permanent collection plus three for temporary exhibitions.
Photography by Martin Parr
Martin Parr’s photography will be on display in the three BP Galleries, on the newly opened upper floor, until Sunday 23 February 2020. Think of Scotland is being show alongside a new series of portraits, Aberdeen At Leisure, which was commissioned by Aberdeen Art Gallery.
The third level also features a café and outdoor terraces providing views onto the surrounding streets.
Natural light and cutting-edge technology
The new look gallery makes good use of natural light. An oval skylight allows daylight to flood into the Sculpture Court, which features Tracey Emin’s For You, a neon love poem, alongside marble figures.
Elsewhere, the adjustable, state-of-the-art ceiling lighting in five of the galleries enables natural lighting to be replicated and adapted to seasonal conditions. Studioarc designed the galleries, their signage and Aberdeen Art Gallery’s digital strategy.
Preserving Aberdeen Art Gallery
“The reopening is the culmination of an incredibly important project, preserving the heritage of Aberdeen Art Gallery whilst creating a wonderful contemporary venue,” commented Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson.
“Crucially we are now able to display far more pieces from our fantastic collections and attract visiting exhibitions of the highest calibre,” she added. The number of items from the permanent collection that can be displayed is up from 370, in 2015, to 1,080.
There’s much more of a focus on decorative art whereas previously the main thrust was fine art. Textiles, jewellery and ceramics are displayed in thematically organised galleries.
Artworks by renowned artists
The artworks on display include pieces by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Gilbert and George and Barbara Hepworth. The gallery has the world’s largest archive of works by James McBey.
In the People and Portraits gallery visitors can dress in costumes and capture their image digitally for display on the wall, a matter of paces from Ken Currie’s haunting self-portrait, Gallowgate Lard. One of Aberdeen Art Gallery’s most celebrated acquisitions, Pope I – Study After Pope Innocent X by Velàsquez, created in 1951 by Francis Bacon hangs in the same room.
The redevelopment included refurbishment of the Cowdray Hall, the wood-panelled recital hall named after its patron, Lady Cowdray.
Lest we forget
The city’s Remembrance Hall, which can now be accessed via Aberdeen Art Gallery, features a newly commissioned work, Forget-Them-Not by Gordon Burnett.
The result of the redevelopment is an attractive and accessible art gallery.
The £36.4 million to fund the project came from Aberdeen City Council (£14.6m), the National Lottery Heritage Fund (£10m), BP (£1m), the UK Government’s HM Treasury Libor fund (£1.5m) and public fundraising (£4.8m).
See the Aberdeen Art Gallery website for information regarding the free-to-visit attraction’s opening times and programme of exhibitions and events.
The VisitAberdeenshire website has information about things to do and places to visit in and around Aberdeen.
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