Photos showcase the new facilities, which also include a new kitchen, and the development of the St Peter’s Gardens entrance, helping accessibility at the Council-owned city centre venue.
The aim of the new dining area – which replaces the old upstairs café - is to create a distinctive, historic and stylish look with a modern contemporary vibe that will attract new visitors who will go on to spend time in the art gallery.
In homage to the gallery’s renowned Pop Art collection and links to ceramics and cooking, it has been named ‘Glaze: the eating space at the gallery’ – and will provide flexible seating for up to 80 people, ensuring easy access and offering the future opportunity to host evening events and functions.
The development of the new eating space has also created five new jobs.
Glaze has officially opened in time for the launch at the Lichfield Street gallery tomorrow of the prestigious British Art Show 9 in Wolverhampton (January 22 – April 10).
City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Stephen Simkins, said: “Wolverhampton Art Gallery is one the jewels in our city crown and I cannot wait for the public to come and enjoy these wonderful new facilities.
“The new spaces and particularly the eating space will truly enhance the visitor experience and allow the gallery to be used to its full potential in the future.
“We have a five-year plan to bring the very best art, music and sport to Wolverhampton to boost the city’s economy, create new jobs, give visitors an experience to remember and build an outstanding cultural reputation.
“With city events in the pipeline to draw people into Wolverhampton, culture forms a key part of our Covid recovery strategy, and the improvements will ensure our much-loved gallery remains a major attraction. The wider strategy also looks at increasing the offer across the city at venues such as Bilston, Wednesfield, Penn and Tettenhall libraries.
“The city centre art gallery is a key component in the leisure offer for Wolverhampton along with the Civic Halls, Grand Theatre, Bilston Town Hall and Aldersley Leisure Village, 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 with these improvements and the new eating space will be a major asset. It means there is now scope for us to expand our regular coffee mornings to more people, providing a welcome opportunity for members to socialise and enjoy the exhibitions and displays. The new facilities will also encourage more people to come and spend time in our fantastic city centre art gallery.”
Cannock-based firm, Croft Building and Conservation Ltd, carried out the seven-month improvement works, which will support the Council’s Relighting Our City strategy by protecting a major capital investment project that will enable one of the city’s cultural gems to deliver further jobs and investment in Wolverhampton.
British Art Show 9 kicks off a bumper year of major events in the city, including the Commonwealth Games cycling time trial, Creation Day Festival in West Park, and Wolverhampton Literature Festival.
The £1,526,000 phase two works have been funded by a mixture of Arts Council England grants and existing capital funding, with the investment in the gallery to generate additional income for the Council.
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 Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
The spectacular Georgian Room was also fully refurbished, and the PA system and Wi-Fi connectivity improved.