At a cost of £8.7 million, The Photographers’ Gallery in London will be ensconcing itself in a regenerative cocoon at the end of this month before emerging redeveloped, fully accessible, and with even more gallery space in time for Christmas 2011.
The refurbishment plans, drawn up by O’Donnell + Tuomey, include galleries across three floors, a floor dedicated to learning and resources, and moving the cafe and bookshop to the ground floor. All of this is a reduced version of the original plan that pretty much bulldozed the Ramillies Street building, but had to be scaled back when the Gallery couldn’t secure the £15 million of funding that it needed.
The Gallery won’t be going quiet during its facelift, though. It has organised a programme of events, projects, and talks that will take place in and around the Soho area of London where it is based. Its offices are moving into temporary accommodation and from here the Gallery will continue to sell its prints and offer access to as many of its resources as it can.
Whether or not the refurbishment will be enough to energise the Gallery, which has suffered criticism recently for being too narrow and out-of-touch—or even if it can survive being closed for 14 months—remains to be seen. But the plans do look very exciting.