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The Art

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Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead

Details

Established:

1928

Membership:

1934

Location:

Birkenhead, North West

Type:

Museum Member (CAS)

Website:

View website
Photo credit:  Wirral Museums Service

Biography

The neo-Georgian building of the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum was designed by Liverpool architects, Messrs Hannaford and Thearle. Commissioned by Birkenhead Borough Council, following a bequest of money from from father and son ship owners John and Patrick Williamson, the museum opened to the public in 1928 and houses the principal collections of Wirral Museums Service.

The wide-ranging permanent collections include painting, sculpture, furniture, prints and decorative arts. Alongside textiles from the area displayed in the Arthur H Lee Tapestry Works collection, it has the largest public collection of Della Robbia Pottery in the UK – Birkenhead’s contribution to the Arts & Crafts movement. A more recent acquisition, Fields of Gold, 2016 through the Contemporary Art Society's Omega fund is a handbuilt sgraffito slipware vase with a decorative narrative by Liverpool-student Emilie Taylor, which pays homage to these local traditional styles and techniques.

The collection holds an interesting selection of British landscape paintings and watercolours, with works by local artist Philip WiIson Steer. The emphasis of the contemporary collection has similarly been on local artists, including selected commissions and purchases from the Wirral Spring Exhibition and the annual Open Exhibition held at the Gallery. And a set of woodcuts, Six Snapshots of Julie, 2015 by Grayson Perry, relating to the life of his fictional character, Julie May Cope, whose life and death is depicted throughout his oeuvre in a variety of media. they were acquired by the CAS for the Williamson after the artist had visited the Williamson during the Covid lockdown and featured it in his Channel 4 programme, Grayson Perry’s Art Club in 2020, at a time when the gallery was threatened by permanent closure.

 

 

 

 

  

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