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Centenary celebrations for Lady Lever Art Gallery
Lady Lever exterior.

LIVERPOOL.- On 25 March 1914 King George V laid the foundation stone for what was to become one of the UK’s finest art venues, the Lady Lever Art Gallery.

The King laid the stone by remote control. By pressing a button on a scale model of Port Sunlight village in Hulme Hall, 500 yards away, he activated an on-site winch that lowered the stone into position. At the same time this working model enacted the event for spectators in Hulme Hall.

Delayed by World War 1, the gallery wasn’t opened until 16 December 1922, when it revealed a wealth of outstanding treasures.

The gallery’s collection, put together by William Hesketh Lever, first Viscount Leverhulme boasts paintings dating from the mid 15th to early 20th century, including masterpieces by Gainsborough, Turner and Constable, and a stunning Pre-Raphaelite collection.

Added to this its display of Wedgwood is unrivalled anywhere in the world; contains some of the finest examples of 18th century English furniture in the country; one of the best Chinese porcelain collections in Europe, and many more exquisite, rare and fascinating pieces.

Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries said: “Lever’s collection is an outstanding achievement for one man but it is perhaps even more remarkable that he had the vision to establish the Lady Lever as a way of sharing it.

“Lever passionately believed that art could be a positive influence in people’s lives. One hundred years on from the laying of the foundation stone the gallery has seen its various changes but it remains true to his original belief that art can be an inspiration to everyone. It’s in this spirit that we’re taking the gallery through its next exciting stage of development.”

Following initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), National Museums Liverpool is hoping to make £2.8m worth of improvements, which will see 500 square metres of gallery space transformed and returned to its original architectural splendour.

The scheme, which promises a revamp of more than a quarter of the venue, would also see around 1,700 items of fine and decorative art redisplayed and new educational resources developed for local schools and groups.

Sandra Penketh continued: “The redevelopment will restore the South End galleries to their former glory and breathe new life into the world-class exhibits.

“As we work on fundraising for the project and developing our plans we are keeping Lever’s original aims for the gallery at the forefront, ensuring the gallery continues to inspire visitors for another 100 years.”

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