Birkenhead’s Williamson Art Gallery reopens after refurbishment
THE newly restored Williamson Art Gallery will re-open tomorrow after a two-month closure for renovation.
The Birkenhead attraction features a new cafe and shop as well as refurbished galleries and a new storeroom.
Work will continue on the rest of the 85-year-old building to create a temporary exhibition gallery and a learning space which are due to open in late spring.
An exhibition of three local artists will launch the Williamson’s 2013 programme.
Colin Simpson, Wirral Council’s curator of museums, said: “This is great news for the Williamson and we hope to welcome more people through the doors than ever.
“Most of the work we have achieved while still open to the public.
“We have very loyal visitors who have been very patient so we didn’t want to close for longer almost as a token of affection for them.”
The renovation work was funded from a £2m pot of Wirral Council money, which was allocated towards improvements to the Williamson and Birkenhead Priory four years ago.
The majority of that funding was used to pay for restoration of the sandstone priory, founded by Benedictine monks in 1150, which is also due to be completed later this year.
Ongoing work at the Williamson includes reopening two galleries that have been used as storage space for the past 20 years.
There are also plans to reintroduce local history displays, which were traditionally shown at the Williamson before the creation of Wirral Museum within Birkenhead Town Hall, which closed in 2009. Future displays will include a reworked version of the popular Lees Tapestry exhibition, shown at the Williamson in 2008.
The new cafe is being run by Best Bites, an employment project for people with disabilities.
Mr Simpson said: “Over the last 20 years, we have provided a venue for many local artists who found exhibitions in the Merseyside region were more difficult to come by as other venues changed their priorities.
“We’re delighted our opening exhibition continues the Williamson’s tradition of showing world class art by local artists.”