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The VG&M was opened in 2008, following an £8.6m restoration
The Victoria Gallery & Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time on June 30th 2008, following its official launch by HRH The Princess Royal.
The VG&M is housed in the University’s Victoria Building which opened in 1892 and was designed by the famous 19th century architect, Alfred Waterhouse. The building inspired the term ‘redbrick university’ which became synonymous with the late 19th Century civic universities. Following an £8.6 million restoration, it was the University’s ‘gift’ to the city of Liverpool during its year as European Capital of Culture providing a stunning new home for its art and heritage collections.
To date, nearly 300,000 visitors have visited the VG&M to explore the building’s fascinating neo-gothic Victorian interior and explore the extensive displays. As well as providing a glimpse of the diverse range of exhibits from the University’s collections, the VG&M offers a temporary exhibition programme and an extensive education programme aimed at adults, families and school groups.
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The VG&M has hosted a number of major art and museum exhibitions which reflect culture, history and aspiration of Liverpool’s and the University. Opening with an exhibition of paintings by the fifth Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe, it subsequently hosted an exhibition of unseen and rare photographs of the Beatles by Astrid Kircherr, Sutcliffe’s fiancé.
`The Mersey Sound’ exhibition included photographs, notebooks and manuscripts from the ‘Liverpool Poets’ archive . It charted the development and sources of inspiration of Liverpool poets, Roger McGough, Brian Patten and the late Adrian Henri – writers who were central to the city’s literary, music and visual arts scene of the 1960s.
Other highlights have included an exhibition of miniature film sets by the cult US film makers, the Quay Brothers and an exhibition of Chinese calligraphy which gave an overview of developments in calligraphy in China in the last 50 or so years. Work by local artists and sculptors have also been displayed at the VG&M including Pete Clarke, Stephen Hitchen, Tony Philips and Tabitha Moses.
The VG&M’s Tate Museum has showcased one of the most important collections of early dentures in the world, an internationally important clay pipe collection, and a real-life Victorian dental surgery. Its current major exhibition showcases the archaeological discoveries of the Hittite Empire more than 100 years ago by the Liverpool archaeologist, Professor John Garstang
Matthew Clough, Director of the VG&M, said: “The Victoria Gallery and Museum was the University’s ‘gift’ to the city of Liverpool. Its striking red faí§ade and gothic architecture have been much admired by the public it has been a pleasure to share the building and the University’s collections with the public.”
The VG&M has welcomed many famous faces including Ray Mears, James May, Lawrence McGinty, Robert Winston, a Victorian dentist and even Queen Victoria herself!
The venue continues to look towards the future, seeking new audiences and developing its reputation for varied programming. Recent projects have included a new website, moves to create an archive of online collections related video and the development of a flexible ipad tour of the building.
Matthew added: “We are currently working on two exciting exhibition projects, one a major redisplay of the museum space examining the development of particle physics research in Liverpool, the other a multi artist exhibition highlighting femicide in Mexico. We also have interesting plans working with a variety of partners, including the Liverpool Biennial, the Contemporary Art Society and the Wordsworth Trust. The next five years will be even better.”
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