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Still as important and relevant to Liverpool as ever, here we explore why once you’ve visited the Walker, you’ll never be the same again…
Established in 1877, the Walker Art Gallery features paintings, sculpture and decorative art from the 13th century to the present day. Such a wide range of artists have had work on display since its opening, from Rembrandt to David Hockney to Banksy. In 1986, the gallery achieved national status, as part of the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside which became National Museums Liverpool in 2003. The group also includes World Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Museum of Liverpool and Wirral’s Lady Lever Art Gallery.
Find out about National Museums Liverpool https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/
The gallery was designed by local architects Cornelius Sherlock and H. H. Vale.
In 1948, it presented William Roscoe’s collection of art and other works. Liverpudlian Roscoe was a respected historian and art collector, poet, writer, botanist and one of England’s first abolitionists.
The Walker is named after its founding benefactor, the former mayor of Liverpool Sir Andrew Barclay Walker. Although not born here – Walker was Scottish – he expanded his brewery business into England and made Gateacre his home.
Here’s what’s on at the Walker
The Walker has a long history of giving back to the local community.
In 1908 the it held a Historical Exhibition of Liverpool Art, featuring works from the 18th and 19th century, marking the start of its study and support of local artists.
During the Second World War, the building itself was used for the administration and distribution of ration books.
A detailed history can be found here
Admission to the Walker is free, except for special exhibitions. Until further notice, because of social distancing you must pre-book even for the free tickets and any groups must include a maximum of six people. Taking a third of the usual number of visitors, the gallery is open Weds – Sun each week allowing time for thorough cleaning. The café is currently takeaway only, but still sells its famous carrot cake to enjoy elsewhere. For more info about measures around the Gallery’s reopening, click here
Between 8 Aug and 1 Nov, there will be a special exhibition of over 250 photographs taken by Linda McCartney. McCartney’s subjects are from the world of music to more intimate shots of her family life with her Beatle husband Paul. Images range from the album launch of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at manager Brian Epstein’s home, the recording of the White Album at Abbey Road, to the Rolling Stones on the Hudson River. For more information and to book tickets, head this way.
The Walker is developing a variety of ‘remote’ workshops for schools, based on feedback from teachers. This remote video offer will be available in the autumn and details will be added to the website soon. To register to receive news for schools, email [email protected]
With the gallery’s Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque displays – Room 1 to 4 – closed until spring 2021 due to refurbishment and the Big Art for Little Artists shut temporarily, children are still very welcome to visit but there is lots on the website to fire up young imaginations even further. Films and virtual tours of the Titanic, a Victorian merchant’s house, Greek myths and more can be found online.
Sponsored by founder of Littlewoods and famous philanthropist Sir John Moores, the competition is the biggest painting prize in the UK. With prize money of £25k, it has been held every two years ever since 1957. The winning work is exhibited alongside shortlisted pieces at the Walker Art Gallery as part of the Liverpool Biennial, the UK’s largest festival of contemporary visual art. The next Biennial is 30 March to 6 June 2021. For updates, check out the Prize’s Twitter account
image credit: Gareth Jones
William Brown Street, built in 1860, is the only street in the UK to consist of nothing other than museums, galleries and libraries. The High Victorian neo-classical buildings earned it the label Liverpool’s ‘Cultural Quarter’. The surrounding area includes Liverpool Central Library, the William Brown Library, World Museum, St. George’s Hall, and Wellington’s Column. Directions and opening hours
The gallery responded quickly to issues highlighted by The Black Lives Matter movement inspired by the death of George Floyd in America over the summer, and is committed to being more transparent about the link between collections and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The Gallery has included additional interpretations to some paintings
Read more here and here
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