Dennis and Carol McDonald were among the first to arrive for Saturday’s opening
Dennis and Carol McDonald were among the first to arrive for Saturday’s opening

Thousands join Aberdeen Art Gallery reopening celebrations

Aberdeen Art Gallery reopened to the public on Saturday as the ribbon was cut on the landmark redevelopment.

Free tickets for the opening weekend were quickly snapped up when they were released in September and more than 5,500 eager art enthusiasts have booked places for the opening two days.

Visitors flocked to the historic venue, with crowds gathering ahead of the doors opening this morning.

The Aberdeen City Council project, designed by Hoskins Architects and exhibition designers Studioarc, has dramatically increased the amount of display space for the nationally recognised collection, with the number of galleries increasing from 11 to 19, with a further three galleries presenting a programme of regularly changing special exhibitions.

Dennis and Carol McDonald were among the first to arrive for Saturday’s opening

The number of items from the permanent collection on display has increased from 370 in 2015 to 1,080 in the redeveloped venue.

The project includes investment in the fabric of the buildings including a re-imagined Remembrance Hall, refurbished Cowdray Hall, new exhibition and collection display galleries, improved visitor facilities and an enhanced activity programme.

The ribbon was cut this morning by Aberdeen City Council culture spokesperson Councillor Marie Boulton and Gallery and museums manager Christine Rew.

Councillor Boulton said: ‘We have been bowled over by all of the positive comments in the preview week – but today, with the first chance for the public to visit, is what really counts. Thank you to everyone who has attended and celebrated the reopening.

Gallery and Museums Manager Christine Rew (left) and Aberdeen City Council culture spokesperson Marie Boulton

‘The redevelopment has transformed Aberdeen Art Gallery into a world class visitor attraction – and it has been brought to life today by the enthusiasm, excitement and joy of everyone who has been part of a special day.

‘The wonderful Gallery team have seen all of their efforts rewarded with the reaction there has been, with so much positive feeling. The past week has been quite emotional and we’re incredibly proud of what has been delivered for the city and the region.’

Aberdeen Art Gallery is home to one of the finest collections in the UK, including works by important Scottish artists, designers and makers such as Henry Raeburn, Joan Eardley, Samuel Peploe, Rachel McLean, Bill Gibb and James Cromar Watt, as well as nationally and internationally-acclaimed artists including Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Claude Monet.

Lewis Haughs, Lyndsay Haughs and 3-year-old Aaron Haughs were among the first visitors

The project’s major funders are the Council, which has pledged £14.6m from capital funds, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a £10m contribution. BP has donated £1m to the redevelopment project, with the BP Galleries to host three national and international exhibitions a year, and the UK Government awarded £1.5m from the HM Treasury Libor funds to support the major renovations in the Remembrance Hall. The total from the ongoing public fundraising programme, which is supported by the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Development Trust, currently sits at £4.8m.

From today, Monday, regular opening times will be 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Admission is free.

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