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The Usher Gallery, Lincoln



1906; 1927; 2005




Lincoln, East Midlands


Museum Member (CAS)


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Photo credit: Lincolnshire County Council


The Collection / Lincoln Museum is a new museum of art and archaeology. It opened to the public in October 2005 as a joint initiative between City of Lincoln Council and Lincolnshire County Council, replacing the original City and County Museum, which had been open since 1906. The new building was designed by architects Panter Hudspith and incorporates Lincoln’s existing Usher Gallery, which sits adjacent to the new building. 

The Usher Gallery, following a bequest to the City by Lincoln jeweller James Ward Usher, opened in 1927, and is home to a collection of fine art, decorative art and horology and has a comprehensive collection of artists’ works that are associated with the county of Lincolnshire. Significant 19th-century Lincolnshire artists include Frank Bramley, William Warrener, Peter de Wint, William Logsdail, Charles Shannon and William Hilton. Lincolnshire people and places are also represented in works by Benjamin West, George Stubbs, JMW Turner and LS Lowry.

There are also a number of still-life and landscape paintings by modern artists, including Vanessa Bell, Leon Underwood and Ivon Hitchens. The gallery has an active acquisitions programme for contemporary work. The gallery collection includes pieces by Terry FrostCraigie Aitchison, Grayson Perry  and Lothar Götz. It also has a substantial collection of English, European and Oriental ceramics and glass, including pieces from the Torksey and Pinxton Factories and presciently Glass Microbiology H1N1 Swine Flu, 2011 by Luke Jerram whose work is now used widely in medical journals.

Through the bequest of a Contemporary Art Society benefactor Tom Bendhem (1928-2002) to the Contemporary Art Society a sequel of portfolios produced for the Byam Shaw School of Art to acquire funds for overseas students to attend the school in London, Bugs, 2000 (the first, Birds, was donated to Danum Gallery, Library and Museum, Doncaster) was acquired which include 10 prints from important contemporary British artists: Fiona Banner, Tacita Dean, Peter Doig, Anya Gallaccio, Brad Lochore, Cornelia Parker, Kathy Prendergast, Yinka Shonibare, Gavin Turk and Mark Wallinger.

An interesting departure is the use of 3D scanning technology implemented by Oliver Laric. Many objects from The Collection and Usher Gallery have been captured since 2012 and put online at www.lincoln3dscans.co.uk. The 360° images, which can be downloaded by all, reveal decoration and markings in stonework normally hidden from view. The scans can be used for several materials, including ceramics, paper, and metal and the first batch included a 2nd-century bust of Greek mythological figure Ariadne, Roman tombstones, medieval baptismal fonts, part of the pelvis bone from Anglo-Saxon remains, and an ancient mosaic. The Contemporary Art Society's Annual Award: Commission to Collect (2009-2015) funded by the Sfumato Foundation supported the project.

The Usher Art Gallery is also strong in sculpture with a permanent work by Richard Wilson; a tree-ring sculpture by Edward Allington and most recently three bronze heads by Thomas J. Price were acquied by the Contemporary Art Society with support from Art Fund and the Heslam Trust in 2021/22.



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