Second phase of art gallery renovations to get underway

City of Wolverhampton Council has appointed a contractor to start the second phase of Wolverhampton Art Gallery improvement works.

The project was halted in March last year when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, preventing the start of construction.

Croft Building and Conservation has been awarded the contract for the works which will start in June.

The historic gallery, including the current upstairs café, will remain open during the phase two works, which will see the relocation of the café from the top floor to a larger ground floor location alongside a new kitchen area, and improvements to the St Peter’s Gardens entrance..

City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Cllr Ian Brookfield, said: “The second phase of these major improvement works will enhance the visitor experience and allow the gallery to be used to its full potential in the future.

“With city events in the pipeline to draw people into Wolverhampton, culture forms a key part of our Covid recovery strategy and the works Croft Building and Conservation will carry out will ensure the gallery continues to be a much-loved asset for everyone.

“The art gallery is a key component in the leisure offer for the city along with the Civic Halls and the Grand Theatre and the improvements are a further demonstration of confidence in the city where there is more than £4.4billion of investment on site or planned.”

Tom Jenkins, chair of the Friends of Wolverhampton Arts and Museums, added: “The Friends are delighted that the new café project is starting in June. This will be a great asset for the Gallery. Prior to the pandemic the Friends had started to meet for regular coffee mornings at the Gallery café and this was a really welcome opportunity for members to socialise and enjoy the exhibitions and displays. We very much look forward to continuing these regular catch-ups in the new, larger space.”

The final £1.5m budget for the phase two works will be funded by a mixture of Arts Council England grants and existing capital funding.

Phase one of the gallery improvements programme saw the Sensing Sculpture room on the first floor transformed into an exhibition space that has enabled the gallery to host larger touring exhibitions such as the Natural History Museum’s World Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

The Georgian Room was also fully refurbished, and the PA system and Wi-Fi connectivity improved.