Where’s the Beecroft Art Gallery gone? – Clare Hunt, Curatorial Manager

As many of our followers now know, the Beecroft Art Gallery is relocating and is currently closed. The new gallery will open in autumn this year at the old Central Library building, next door to the Central Museum on Victoria Avenue.

The old gallery in Westcliff has had serious structural problems for quite some time so when the library building came available last year we got the opportunity to relocate. The gallery will occupy the basement, ground floor and 1st floor levels; the lower levels will be used for temporary exhibitions and the first floor for a bigger display of our permanent collection and also a costume gallery – for the first time, we will be able to have a permanent display of historic costume and we have a wonderful volunteer who is going to hand craft a very large display case for it!

 

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The first exhibitions in the new gallery will include a selection of local paintings which are also featured in a new app (launching soon, watch this space), an exhibition of works from Essex University’s Latin American collections to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and Beauty and the Beach, a touring exhibition of bathing suits which we are creating this year with the help of an Arts Council grant (see Ciara’s earlier blog about making buckram mounts).

I’m sorry to say that there will be no Essex Open Exhibition this year due to the timing of the move and the other exhibition commitments, but it will be back next year, bigger and better.

 

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Since closing in autumn last year, the gallery has been busier than ever. Apart from packing up the thousands of artworks and costumes, we have had a wonderful donation and made other purchases for the collection with the help of our Friends organisation. We also have a very high profile loan happening. I will let you know a bit more about all of those things in my next post…..

 

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I will leave you with this wonderful image by Alan Sorrell (1904-1974) which is from our art collection and shows a bowling green in the space where the library now stands. You can also see the Central Museum (which was the library then). We certainly have a habit in Southend Museums to keep moving into old libraries! Did you know that Southchurch Hall was once a library too?

 

Until next time,

Clare

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