Hatton Gallery receives green light for redevelopment

28 July 2015

The project involves conserving the historic and architectural elements of the Grade II listed building while creating a modern exhibition space. Plans include enhancing the Edwardian splendour of the entrance foyer, improved visitor facilities such as more seating areas and introducing flexible facilities to display the gallery’s distinctive permanent collection, as well as improved lighting and more efficient environmental controls.

There will also be a new dedicated multi-purpose learning space where students, community groups and researchers can engage with collections and archive material. The picture store will also be rebuilt and enlarged to ensure the Hatton’s extensive collection is preserved for future generations.

The funding will also go towards urgent conservation and better interpretation of the iconic Merz Barn Wall by Kurt Schwitters, one of the most significant figures in 20th century art. The wall was brought to the gallery in 1965 and incorporated into the fabric of the building.

Founded in 1925, the Hatton Gallery has been at the heart of cultural life in the North East for nearly a century and has an illustrious history. As part of Newcastle University’s Fine Art department, it has been at the forefront of British contemporary art for decades; during the 1950s and 60s its teaching staff included pop-art pioneer Richard Hamilton and leading British abstract artist Victor Pasmore, and it is currently showing ‘Space Stations’ a collection of drawings by Anthony Gormley.

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “Based in an architecturally impressive listed Edwardian building, the Hatton Gallery is now set to be transformed into a vibrant public space, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. Once completed, people will be able to learn about and enjoy the Hatton’s varied and nationally important collections and take part in the numerous activities and training opportunities that will be on offer.

“The partnership between Newcastle University and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums is a particularly strong one and we know that together they will make this project a huge success cementing the Gallery’s status as a major cultural and heritage resource in the North East.”

Professor Richard Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Internationalisation at Newcastle University, added: “This is fantastic news for the Hatton Gallery and will help increase participation in learning, training and volunteering, enabling more people of all ages and backgrounds to enjoy and engage with art.”

Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs at Newcastle University, said: “The Hatton's history is entwined with some of the most influential artists of the 20th century and offers visitors a distinctive experience. This funding allows us to offer new and exciting opportunities for visitors, artists and students, strengthening the Hatton’s significance and reputation for contemporary art, regionally, nationally and internationally.”

Iain Watson, Director, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “The Hatton has an important role in the cultural landscape of Newcastle and as part of Newcastle University has had a pioneering role in the history of art teaching. This funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund along with the other grants and donations we have secured will enable Newcastle University and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums to ensure the Hatton continues to be a vibrant and exciting gallery long into the future.”

The HLF award is the latest in a high-profile public fundraising campaign which was launched in November 2013 with Bryan Ferry CBE, a 1968 Newcastle Fine Art graduate, as its patron. The ‘Hatton Future’ campaign has secured support from individuals, trusts and foundations including the Friends of the Hatton, the Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, the Shears Foundation, the Sir James Knott Trust and the Ridley Family Trust, as well as the family of Victor Pasmore.

The campaign also received support from Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, who re-affirmed the Hatton’s importance and his endorsement of the refurbishment plans during a visit to the gallery earlier this year.

The Hatton’s diverse collection includes over 3,000 works from the 14th – 20th centuries with extensive archive material including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and textiles, and material connected to the history of the Gallery, such as exhibition posters designed and printed in the art school.

Today the collection and archive are in active use for teaching by staff and students at Newcastle University. It is also a rich resource for schools, colleges, outreach groups and researchers locally, nationally and internationally. Its quality and significance is evidenced by frequent loans to other national and international institutions.

The Hatton Gallery is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Newcastle University.