Swansea’s iconic Glynn Vivian Art Gallery will be re-opening to the public on Saturday October 15 following the completion of a multi-million pound redevelopment and restoration project.
New spaces for lectures, expert conservation works, touring exhibitions and collection displays are among the improvements visitors can look forward to.
A new state-of-the-art extension will link the historic buildings, including the grade two listed 1911 display, which has benefitted from complete restoration and improvements to facilities and access, all of which will ensure the Glynn Vivian is fit for the 21st Century.
A new collection store for artworks has also been added, as well as a fully accessible entrance that means more people than ever will enjoy greatly improved access to the artworks.
The redevelopment and restoration project has been funded by the Arts Council of Wales, Swansea Council, the Welsh Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Funding was also secured through the Building Enhancement Programme grant scheme run by Swansea Council and funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Regeneration, said: “I’m lucky enough to have already had a tour of the refurbished and restored Glynn Vivian Art Gallery – it looks absolutely fantastic. Not only has the building’s original splendour been recreated, but new facilities and spaces have been added to provide a 21st century visitor experience that will benefit many hundreds of thousands of local residents and visitors in future.
“It’s now all systems go for the October 15 re-opening, with our small, dedicated team at the Glynn Vivian making progress every day on the unpacking of artworks and the preparation of exhibition displays.
“The completion of this redevelopment and restoration project will make the Glynn Vivian a destination gallery of international significance, right at the heart of a regenerated city centre.
“But this great project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our partners at the Arts Council of Wales, the Welsh Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Friends of the Glynn Vivian, whose help and guidance will preserve and improve a treasured Swansea landmark where people can enjoy thousands of world class paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other artworks for many years to come.”
Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Economy and Infrastructure Secretary, who is also responsible for culture and heritage in Wales, said: “Wales’ historical buildings are important in shaping our communities and telling the story of our past, while also bringing significant economic benefits through tourism.
“After nearly five years of extensive refurbishment and redevelopment, including £3.8 million investment from the Welsh Government, I am delighted that Swansea’s Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is re-opening to the public, providing a new and improved visitor experience. The refurbished centre will hopefully prove an inspiration for local and national artists, and will be enjoyed by generations to come.”
Phil George, Chair of the Arts Council of Wales said, “The Glynn Vivian is a key venue in our national network of galleries and this redevelopment reflects its ambition to deliver the best in the visual arts in Wales.
“This stylish contemporary space will offer something for everyone and will enable the museum’s collections to connect with a wider public in a new and exciting way.”
Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales, said: “It is fantastic that a gallery drawing such big names has been able to open in Swansea, thanks in part to National Lottery players. The gallery will play its part in supporting the city centre, helping boost Swansea’s cultural offering locally as well as wider within a thriving Wales.”
An exhibition of ten drawings by Leonardo da Vinci is among the attractions visitors can look forward to when the gallery re-opens. On display from October 15 to January 6, Leonardo da Vinci: Ten Drawings from the Royal Collection, is showing in Swansea as the final venue of a tour to four galleries in the UK and Ireland.
The drawings are thought to have been acquired by King Charles II in the 17th century, in an album containing more than 500 of the artist’s studies.
Although Leonardo trained as a painter and is famous for works such as the Mona Lisa, he was also a sculptor, engineer, botanist, mapmaker, anatomist and much more. His principal tool of investigation was drawing, and in this exhibition visitors will be able to see the ‘whole Leonardo’.
With a focus on journeys, a sculpture in the form of an upturned boat, Nowhere Less than Now by international artist Lindsay Seers, will also be installed in the gallery’s atrium area when it re-opens, courtesy of The Artangel Collection.
The gallery has also invited artists who have exhibited in Swansea in the past, from Latin America, China, South Africa and Wales, to present their work in an exhibition called Out of Darkness.
Cllr Francis-Davies said: “Travel and exploration are some of the key themes that will be investigated through art when the gallery re-opens on October 15.
“But as well as works from world-renowned names like da Vinci, there will also be an exhibition that focuses on the gallery’s globetrotting founder, Richard Glynn Vivian.
“The wraps will soon be off on a project that will engage, enthral and inspire people of all ages.”
Other new features of the redeveloped and restored gallery include a new shop and café area, as well as a new community space.
Have a look at www.swansea.gov.uk/glynnvivian for more information.
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