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  • Turner Contemporary

    Turner Contemporary

    Photo Hufton + Crow
  • Sunley Gallery

    Sunley Gallery

    Photo Hufton + Crow
  • Turner Contemporary gallery model

    Turner Contemporary gallery model

    Copyright: David Chipperfield Architects. Photo Richard Davies
  • Conrad Shawcross, installation view at Turner Contemporary. Projections of the Perfect Third 2011, Left to right: Limit of Everything (5:4), 2011; Harmonic Manifold 1 (5:4) 2011; Perfect Third (5:4 ) 1-5, 2011

    Conrad Shawcross, installation view at Turner Contemporary. Projections of the Perfect Third 2011, Left to right: Limit of Everything (5:4), 2011; Harmonic Manifold 1 (5:4) 2011; Perfect Third (5:4 ) 1-5, 2011

    Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Photo David Grandorge
  • Russell Crotty, installation view at Turner Contemporary. Works left to right: The Cape, 2010, courtesy Hosfelt Gallery; Walking Towards Dreamland, 2011, courtesy of the artist; Near The Lost Coast, 2007, courtesy Shoshana Wayne Gallery; Coastal Wanderings, 2010-2011, courtesy the artist.

    Russell Crotty, installation view at Turner Contemporary. Works left to right: The Cape, 2010, courtesy Hosfelt Gallery; Walking Towards Dreamland, 2011, courtesy of the artist; Near The Lost Coast, 2007, courtesy Shoshana Wayne Gallery; Coastal Wanderings, 2010-2011, courtesy the artist.

    Photo David Grandorge  
  • Turner Contemporary Ground Breaking Ceremony 2008

    Turner Contemporary Ground Breaking Ceremony 2008



  • Grace Ayson, Turner Contemporary gallery interior first floor gallery 2009

    Grace Ayson, Turner Contemporary gallery interior first floor gallery 2009

    Copyright Grace Ayson
  • Grace Ayson, Turner Contemporary gallery Reception 2009

    Grace Ayson, Turner Contemporary gallery Reception 2009

    Copyright Grace Ayson
  • Turner Contemporary gallery (background)

    Turner Contemporary gallery (background)

    Copyright Stephen Hughes
  • Turner Contemporary gallery (exterior)

    Turner Contemporary gallery (exterior)

    Copyright Stephen Hughes
  • Turner Contemporary gallery (interior)

    Turner Contemporary gallery (interior)

    Copyright Stephen Hughes
  • Turner Contemporary gallery

    Turner Contemporary gallery

    Copyright Stephen Hughes
  • Turner Contemporary gallery

    Turner Contemporary gallery

    Copyright Stephen Hughes

About > Gallery

“Designed by the immaculately progressive David Chipperfield, Turner Contemporary is probably the most elegant gallery interior in Britain right now.”

Waldermar Januszczak, art critic

Our landmark gallery is the largest exhibition space in the South East outside of London.

Designed by the multi award-winning David Chipperfield Architects, the gallery sits on Margate seafront, on the same site where JMW Turner stayed when visiting the town in the 19th Century.

From here, the building offers sensational views over the North Kent Coast, captures the dramatic light effects and gives you a unique opportunity to engage with and explore world-class art. Through our rolling programme of temporary exhibitions, events and learning opportunities, we make intriguing links between historical and contemporary art, presenting art in new, dynamic ways.

Admission to the gallery is free.

Plan your visit to Turner Contemporary >

 

Building the gallery

“…the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe” JMW Turner

Turner Contemporary gallery opened in April 2011.

David Chipperfield Architects carefully designed the gallery to enhance visitors’ connection with Turner.

The building is situated on the exact same site as the ‘Cold Harbour’ guest house where Turner stayed on his frequent visits to Margate, recreating his original view and capturing the same unique Thanet light that inspired many of his works.

From the gallery, everyone can experience and enjoy panoramic views over the harbour that Turner himself saw.

The gallery is in close proximity to Margate’s creative quarter, the Old Town, where a buzzing artist community thrives, as well as a lively café and restaurant scene.

Construction
“Light is therefore colour” JMW Turner

Light is at the essence of David Chipperfield’s design of Turner Contemporary.

“From the spacious naturally lit galleries to its opaque glass exterior, the building will absorb and reflect light to create a distinctive and inspirational building.”
David Chipperfield

Positioned on a plinth to protect it from the high winds and sea, the building is made up of six identical interlocking north-facing rectangular blocks. Each block is laid out over two floors and has a pitched roof at a 20 degree angle.

The double-height entrance hall window, ground floor events space with external terrace and first floor Clore learning studio all have large north-facing windows offering unrivalled views out to sea. These capture the ever-changing light conditions, reflecting the range of colours found in Turner’s paintings.

The three first floor gallery spaces are lit by natural ‘maritime light’ from the north-facing roof and sky lights. The balcony on this floor cantilevers out over the ground floor gallery, again giving spectacular sea views.

The ‘urban window’ of the ground floor, café and shop all face the town to connect the building with its surroundings.

To emphasise the changing and dramatic effect of light outside the building, a white opaque glass façade has been used. This will also resist storm and wind damage, humidity and saline intrusion.

“It had to be a building that balanced architectural merit with function and flexibility as an exhibition space, and one that ideally made use of the legendary natural light.” 
Victoria Pomery, Director

On 1 December 2009 local people and workers on the build helped us to celebrate the development of the building at a Topping Out ceremony.

The first turf for the gallery was dug on 25 November 2008 by members of the local community, pupils from Holy Trinity and St John's School in Margate, Kent County Council's Mike Hill and Paul Carter and Thanet District Council Leader, Sandy Ezekiel, at our Groundbreaking ceremony. The school children displayed Turner’s famous quote The Sun is God to mark the milestone.
See the build in pictures on our Flickr page. 

Funding
The £17.4m building project was kindly funded by Kent County Council (£6.4m), Arts Council England (£4.1m) and the South East England Development Agency (£4m) and Turner Contemporary Art Trust (£2.9m). 

History

 

Having been appointed in 2006, David Chipperfield Architects, developed an elegant, inspiring design that took full advantage of the gallery’s exceptional location on Margate’s seafront.

At a public meeting in June 2007 local residents joined the design discussions (in total over 8,000 people were engaged in the consultation process). Later, in October, David Chipperfield revealed the final design, highlighting the key elements of the build:

"We have developed the design to take maximum advantage of such a dramatic setting with its extraordinary views. Our building will look out to the sea, connect itself to the town and capture the same unique light that inspired Turner."

Mike Hill OBE, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Communities said "We are all incredibly excited about how the architects have responded to the many challenges and opportunities of this unique location to create such a stunning design."

From 2008 onwards, the Kent contractor for the build R Durtnell and Sons, have worked to create the spectacular building, on schedule.

From December 2009 to December 2010, Stephen Hughes documented the building project through a series of photo portraits.

Grace Ayson recorded the construction of the gallery through drawing, to highlight the importance of the practice for Turner, who always carried a sketchbook in his pocket, recording the changing scenery as he went.

In 2010, Cultural Heritage Specialist Jason Wood wrote Contemporary history in the making - an independent essay revealing the project so far, looking forward to the gallery's opening in 2011.

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