Work has begun to remove 900 priceless works of art housed in a Kettering gallery to clear the area for a £3.9 million makeover for the heritage quarter's library, museum and art gallery.
The Alfred East Art Gallery's collection, renowned for its classical artworks of 19th and 20th century fine art, have been packed away ready for safe storage at a specialist facility.
£1.6 million will be spent on an extension to the Alfred East Art Gallery with another £163,000 spent on an internal renovation, part of the GLaM project. The three adjacent Grade II listed buildings in Sheep Street which are collectively labelled GLaM (Kettering Gallery, Library and Museum) will be renovated to create a ‘cultural anchor’ for North Northamptonshire.
A spokesman for North Northamptonshire Council said: “The refurbishment, re-development and extension of the Alfred East Art Gallery, Kettering Library and Manor House Museum – known as GLaM - is a significant project for the town.
“The improvements to this cultural hub will bring a great deal of enjoyment for residents as well as supporting the local economy.
“GLaM secured £3 million from the Getting Building Fund, administered by SEMLEP with match-funding from the council.
“As part of the next step of the project The Alfred East Art Gallery collection is being securely stored within a fine art specialist storage facility while the capital works take place over the coming months.
“The process to move the collection has taken considerable time and professional care, with the collection condition checked, catalogued and packaged appropriately to ensure safe storage.
“We are extremely fortunate to have a diverse and well regarded local collection which includes works by local artists Sir Alfred East and Thomas Cooper Gotch as well as more contemporary works by Howard Hodgkin, Leon Kosoff and Joan Eardley amongst others.
“The collection will return to our gallery walls early 2022 when the improved facilities welcome the public back through the doors.”
Opened in July 1913, two months before Sir Alfred East's death, the gallery's collection today consists of just over 900 pieces of work, encompassing a mixture of disciplines including oils, watercolours, etchings, printmaking, photography and sculpture.
In February this year there was public outcry as large trees were removed to make way for the building works .