Liverpool, UK - 11 July 2006: A £7.5 million restoration project will see the University of Liverpool's famous redbrick Victoria Building transformed into an art gallery and museum to coincide with Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture.
The restoration will open one of Liverpool’s most iconic landmarks to the public for the first time. Established in 1892, the building inspired the term ‘redbrick university’ which became synonymous with the late 19th Century civic universities. It will now become the new home for art and heritage collections acquired by the University throughout its 100-year history.
The first floor of the building will house the University’s art collections including early English watercolours, ceramics, fine art, silver and furniture. Tate Hall, on the second floor, originally created as a library using funds provided by sugar magnate Henry Tate, will also be restored to accommodate the University’s heritage collections.
Exhibitions at Tate Hall will include dinosaur footprints, X-rays of Tutankhamen’s mummified body, death masks, and the skeleton of the 1899 Grand National winner, Manifesto. The heritage collections also include some of Nature’s most unusual creatures, such as a Tasmanian devil and a particularly rare reptile from the southern hemisphere known as a sphenodon.
Matthew Clough, Director of Art and Heritage Collections, said: “Transforming the Victoria Building into a public space will further enhance the institutions connectivity with people who live in Liverpool but don’t necessarily study at the university. The museum collections will go on display for the first time and will appeal to both children and adults, allowing them to gain a better understanding of the groundbreaking contributions the University’s research has made in numerous areas such as anaesthesia, nuclear fission and the development of the radio.”
The main entrance hall, which is extensively decorated with Victorian tiles, will provide an impressive opening to the facility. The original women’s common room with spectacular windows and Victorian tiled pillars supporting Gothic arches will become home to the ceramics and silver collections.
Paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby and JMW Turner, the largest collection outside the US of oil paintings by the seminal American wildlife artist John James Audubon and works by 20th century artists, including Jacob Epstein, Lucien Freud and Elizabeth Frink, will also feature in the new gallery.
As well as a striking new entrance on Ashton Street, there will be a café and glass lift installed inside the building’s clock tower.
The ground floor will also become home to the University’s Widening Participation team, who encourage and support people who would not normally consider going to university. Primary and secondary school children taking part in Widening Participation projects will also be able to explore the museum and gallery collections.
The Victoria Building Gallery and Museum will be opened in July 2008.