The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate is housed in an elegant building complete with tall windows and glittering chandeliers that was formerly Harrogate’s Promenade Rooms. Originally built in 1806 as Harrogate’s first spa, the building underwent a redevelopment in 1991 to house the town’s collections of fine Art and Craft. Its origins began as the Harrogate Fine Art Collection and a gallery for it was first contructed on the top floor of the public library on Victoria Avenue that was opened in 1930.
The permanent collection, now with some 2000 works of art, is strong in 19th and 20th century British art, by great Victorians such as William Powell Frith and Atkinson Grimshaw, alongside early 20th century favourites Ivon Hitchens, Paul Nash, Eileen Agar and Laura Knight.
Over the last ten years the representation of contemporary art has grown, with a strong emphasis on the work of women artists, such as Sarah Pickstone, Caroline Walker, Margaret Roberts, Eileen Cooper and Rose Garrard, whose work Artist as a Model blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture. Photography is another important area of the Mercer’s collecting, with work by Tacita Dean, Liza Dracup, Tessa Bunney, Tim Smith and Paul Floyd Blake. A diverse exhibition programme that weaves together historic and contemporary art in exciting and thought provoking ways runs throughout the year.