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The first time in a hundred years that the Gallery is closed to the public

Posted 29th September 2008
Watts Contemporary Gallery


Today is poignant – the first time in a hundred years that the Gallery is closed to the public. Last night, we shared a glass of champagne to mark the end of this important chapter in the Gallery’s history, with the last shift of volunteers: Peggy Kearns and Sue Graham, and the last visitors, Mr and Mrs Fletcher from Farnham. We were joined by Jane Turner, volunteer, Rachel Blackstone our 2010 Friends Campaign co-ordinator, Helen Heinkens Lewis, Head of Learning, and their families and Robert Napier, Trustee.

As the late September sun cast longer shadows across the lawn, and the warmth of the day evaporated, I felt the burden of the task ahead – to restore Watts Gallery for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. As Mark Bills, the Curator, and I shut the gate for the final time, as in many moments in this period of change to the Gallery, I looked back to the ambition, enterprise and innovation of the founders of the Gallery in 1904. Watts Gallery was modern and mould breaking – time has altered this impact. There will be change in restoring the Gallery and bringing it to a standard where we can borrow works from national collections. Together with the team and our architect, we will be making every effort to ensure that these changes are for the better and for the long term.