Gallery to close for £137,000 renovation

Paul Jeeves

AN ART gallery which has carved out a burgeoning reputation over the last two decades is due to close for three months next year to allow vital renovations to be carried out.

The Mercer Art Gallery, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, is in line for a revamp costing almost 137,000 after leisure chiefs from Harrogate Council voiced concerns over the state of the venue.

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While some improvements to security were carried out three years ago, there has been little investment in the Harrogate gallery since it opened in 1991, and council officials have claimed there is an “urgent requirement” to upgrade the building to meet national museum standards.

Essential work which has been identified includes ripping out carpets and fitting wooden flooring, as well as replacing exhibition display screens and cases which council officers have noted are currently “cumbersome, battered and beginning to disintegrate”.

New display lighting is due to be installed under the proposed revamp, and a new seating gallery introduced. Window blinds are planned to be replaced, and an electronic heating system introduced to replace the existing manual one which has been deemed unreliable.

Security stands and ropes for major exhibitions are also due to be bought after the gallery’s staff have had to borrow equipment in the past.

The gallery attracts more than 22,000 visitors every year, and a major coup was secured in 2007 when an exhibition showcasing the work of celebrated Victorian artist William Powell Frith was held.

The gallery is expected to close on January 17 before re-opening on April 16, when a major exhibition of paintings by John Atkinson Grimshaw will mark the 20th anniversary.