Free tickets for Aberdeen Art Gallery opening weekend to be released


Free tickets for Aberdeen Art Gallery’s opening weekend will be available from tomorrow (1 October) as the countdown to the launch of the redeveloped venue continues.

Doors open to the public on Saturday, 2 November, and advance bookings will be in operation to manage demand over the first two days and ensure the best experience for visitors. Seven timed slots will be available on the opening day and a further seven on Sunday, 3 November, with tickets available from 10am on Tuesday 1 October at www.aagm.co.uk/opening . Anyone requiring support to reserve tickets can access that through the city’s libraries or at the Maritime Museum’s information desk.

With less than five weeks to go until the re-opening, a dynamic new approach to the permanent collection galleries has been revealed.

Aberdeen Art Gallery is home to one of the finest collections in the UK, including works by important Scottish artists, designers and makers such as Henry Raeburn, Joan Eardley, Samuel Peploe, Rachel McLean, Bill Gibb and James Cromar Watt, as well as nationally and internationally-acclaimed artists including Barbara Hepworth, Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin and Claude Monet.

The redevelopment has dramatically increased the amount of display space for the Nationally-Recognised Collection, with the number of galleries increasing from 11 to 19, with a further three galleries presenting a programme of regularly-changing special exhibitions. The number of items from the permanent collection on display has increased from 370 in 2015 to 1,080 in 2019.

Based on visitor research the fresh new approach to displaying the collection has created a rich variety of experiences for visitors as they move from gallery to gallery. The displays explore artists’ ideas and inspiration, their creative processes and the materials they use. A wide range of artforms and media, the use of colour, hands-on interactives, music, innovative display methods and engaging interpretive information combine to create a range of experiences, moods and stories for visitors. The galleries are:

Sculpture Court

From plaster casts to broken glass, explore the three-dimensional world of sculpture.

Remembrance Hall

A space for contemplation and commemoration, honouring Aberdeen lives lost in conflict from the First World War to the present day.

Cowdray Hall

Funded by a gift from Annie, Viscountess Cowdray, to encourage ‘a taste for art and music in the City of Aberdeen’, the Cowdray Hall was opened in 1925. Renowned for its exceptional acoustic, many local, national and international artists have performed here.

Gallery 1: Collecting Art

For over 130 years we have been collecting art for Aberdeen. Discover the origins of Aberdeen Art Gallery and explore what we collect and why.

Gallery 2: Special Exhibitions

A changing programme of exhibitions showcasing work by local schools, colleges, arts organisations and artists.

Gallery 3: Special Exhibitions / Artist-in-Residence

As well as presenting traditional exhibitions, film and digital art, this flexible space can be transformed into an artist-in-residence studio, shining a light on the creative process.

Gallery 4: Human Presence

Discover the many ways contemporary artists depict the human body, either directly or through its absence.

Gallery 5: Crafting Colour

Discover how makers have perfected techniques in their craft, the materials they use and the paints, dyes and glazes with which they choose to embellish their works – or reject colour entirely.

Gallery 6: Feasting

Explore the utensils, drinking vessels and tablewares designed over centuries to keep us fed and watered.

Gallery 7: Exploring Art

What inspires artists? Is it a landscape, a story, a still life from nature? What inspires you? Play and create in this highly interactive gallery!

Gallery 8: Adorning

Beauty, identity, status and protest: get up close to statement jewellery and take a look at how and why we adorn our bodies.

Gallery 9: Balmoral Phenomenon

Explore the royal love affair with Balmoral and the Scottish Highlands and discover how artists from different eras interpret 19th-century notions of Scottishness.

Gallery 10: French Impressions

Discover the far-reaching influence of French and Scottish art of the late 19th century through exquisite pairings of works by French and Scottish artists exploring the same ideas.

Gallery 11: First World War Remembered

A space for contemplation and reflection on local people’s experiences of war and conflict.

Gallery 12: Around Art Deco

Ceramics and glassware inspired by the bold, geometric designs of the 1920s and 30s.

Gallery 13: James McBey – Artist Adventurer

Delve into the life and passions of Aberdeenshire-born James McBey, self-taught etcher, draftsman and painter, war artist and society portraitist.

McBey Library

Browse the shelves of this dedicated art reference library, with thousands of books, catalogues and periodicals about fine and decorative art to explore.

Gallery 14: Art of Empowerment

From artist’s muse, to maker to activist, consider the changing status of women through art and craft of the late 19th / early 20th century.

Gallery 15: Paradise Lost

Discover how the idea of a creative paradise came under threat from the horrors of mechanised warfare in the early part of the 20th century.

Gallery 16: Shoreline

Many artists look to the sea as a source of inspiration, particularly in Scotland. Some identify themselves with a particular stretch of coast, others are drawn to objects washed up on the shore.

Gallery 17: Abstract Art

Get to know the language of abstract art - a kind of visual thinking with colour, shape and form based on the inner experience of the artist rather than the appearance of outer reality.

Gallery 18: People and Portraits

Whether symbols of ancestry, reminders of dynasties or tools of propaganda, why are we so obsessed with portraits?

Gallery 19: Express Yourself

Celebrating local artists who express themselves, their families and their lives in their art.

Christine Rew, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Manager, said: “We’re excited to get even more of Aberdeen’s amazingly rich and varied collection out on public display, and to present it in a fresh and engaging way. Hoskins Architects and our exhibition designers, Studioarc, have done a superb job, working with us to ensure that visitors will experience the city’s treasures at their very best, against the stunning backdrop of the beautiful Art Gallery building.”

Caroline Clark, Director of the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland, said: “Thanks to National Lottery funding, these wonderful new spaces will mean visitors will be able to enjoy so much more of Aberdeen Art Gallery’s incredible collections. Creative new approaches to displaying the collection will bring the City’s cultural treasures to life, inspiring visitors to explore the works of outstanding Scottish and international artists and the stories behind the collection.”

The £34.6 million project includes investment in the fabric of the buildings including a re-imagined Remembrance Hall, refurbished Cowdray Hall, new exhibition and collection display galleries, improved visitor facilities and an enhanced activity programme. The project’s major funders are Aberdeen City Council and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. BP has given £1 million support to the redevelopment project. The BP Galleries will host three national and international exhibitions a year.

The 2 November reopening will be the latest milestone in the most significant period of transformation in the city’s history, with the Council’s £1billion capital programme changing the built environment and driving cultural change.

Projects include the creation of a world class venue at The Event Complex Aberdeen, with the P&J Live events space at its heart, and the redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens in the heart of the city. New roads, including the bypass and the Diamond Bridge, the creation of a unique visitor attraction at Provost Skene’s House, refurbishment of the iconic Music Hall, construction of the award-winning Marischal Square office and restaurant complex as part of the wider regeneration of Broad Street, are also integral to the ambitions for the city.