Leeds Art Gallery raises the roof for £4m revamp

New collection displays fill renovated building after two-year closure

During the gallery’s £4m makeover, workers discovered a Victorian glazed roof that had been hidden for decades above a false ceiling DLA Design

Leeds Art Gallery is to reopen after nearly two years of refurbishment on 13 October. The gallery, which dates back to 1888, initiated the £4m project after closing in January 2016 for repairs to its Victorian roof. The work has been mainly funded by Leeds City Council.

During the refurbishment, workers uncovered an elegant barrel-vaulted glazed roof that had been hidden above a false ceiling on the first floor. The room will now form part of an extensive rehang of the collection across the renovated building. The gallery’s strength is British art from the 19th century to the present.

The reopening programme includes a Joseph Beuys display drawn from the Artist Rooms collection at the Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland (until 21 January 2018). A newly acquired video by the US artist Martine Syms, A Pilot for a Show about Nowhere (2015), will also be on show. The work is a gift from the Valeria Napoleone XX Contemporary Art Society initiative to increase the representation of female artists in UK public collections.

Visitor numbers—490,000 came in 2015—are expected to rise after the reopening. The city is bidding for the European Capital of Culture 2023 title.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 294 October 2017