On Saturday we finally got around to visiting the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester which re-opened on 14 February following an 18 month closure while the building was extended.
The original Edwardian building – red brick, , Jacobean influenced, set in a park– was opened in 1908. It was overhauled in the 1960’s with the interior given a Scandinavian look, and some of those features have been retained.
Like many galleries, the Whitworth collection, and it’s ambition, outgrew the building, hence the latest extension designed by MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects).
The building has been extended at the rear with a new glass clad wing housing the cafe
a glass clad corridor at the rear of the original galleries with a new Resource Centre underneath in what had originally been storerooms
and a new brick built gallery.
The extensions surround a newly created garden space.
Inside some of the sixties interiors have been retained
but the original barrel vaulted galleries at the rear of the original building have been opened up to their original height.
The Great Hall on he first floor at the front of the building has been reopened and made accessible to visitors
The new wing containing the cafe is particularly attractive
The cafe is like a large glass box with views over the par and the newly created garden. The sloping site means the cafe, although on the same level as the ground floor entrance at the front of the building, is elevated so cafe patrons are level with the canopies of the adjacent trees.
One of the objectives of the re-modelling was to integrate the gallery with the park, and the architects have certainly achieved that.