This autumn, major construction commences on MK Gallery’s ambitious expansion. This will see the current building double in size and the creation of new cultural facilities in Milton Keynes. Reopening in 2019, the Gallery and its programmes will be transformed through doubled exhibition spaces for historical as well as contemporary art, a multi-purpose auditorium for film, music, dance and other activities overlooking the city’s green spaces, a dedicated learning and community space, excellent access facilities and a welcoming new café bar and shop.
Working on an exciting design by 6a architects, the expansion is being delivered by main contractor, Bowmer & Kirkland with project management and contract administration by Jackson Coles. Through extensive consultation with local residents and stakeholders, the design has been refined in partnership with MK Gallery, Milton Keynes Council, and Arts Council England.
Award winning 6a architects has garnered a reputation for its sensitive and engaging buildings. The design for MK Gallery includes references to the original development of Milton Keynes in the 1960s and 70s telling the story of the city’s visionary heyday, in collaboration with artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman.
MK Gallery Director Anthony Spira said: ‘It is a source of immense pride to be bringing what will be a world-class venue to Milton Keynes. The new building will be fully accessible so that we can provide the very best arts experiences for wide audiences and extend our work with families, community groups and those impacted by health, financial and social concerns. The arts are an incredible resource for creating cohesion between diverse individuals, nurturing wellbeing and ultimately creating stronger communities.’
Bowmer & Kirkland, is of the UK’s most successful privately-owned construction, engineering and development groups. Main Board Director, Jack Kirkland, said: 'We at Bowmer & Kirkland are tremendously excited to be working on this project. We are very proud of the work that we have done and are doing in Milton Keynes and we hope that this expansion will be an outstanding contribution to the cityscape. Speaking personally I have enjoyed many great shows at MK Gallery and I look forward to seeing what Anthony and his team will do with the new space.'
Speaking about the expansion Councillor Liz Gifford, Milton Keynes Council Cabinet member responsible for Place, said: ‘Milton Keynes was founded on an understanding of the value of arts and culture as the foundation for strong, lively and fulfilled communities. This is a legacy that continues today. What more potent demonstration can there be of Milton Keynes’ belief in the value of culture than for the MK Gallery expansion to be commencing in the year when we celebrate the city’s 50th anniversary and as it prepares its bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.’
The expansion of MK Gallery has been made possible with the generous backing of Arts Council England, Milton Keynes Council, SEMLEP and many other generous trusts, individuals and businesses. The funders recognised MK Gallery’s track record in delivering excellent and innovative local and international arts programmes, particularly praising its partnership working and success in bringing new audiences to the arts.
Hilary Chipping, Deputy Chief Executive of SEMLEP said: 'MK Gallery’s expansion secures its position as an excellent cultural asset for the South East Midlands. SEMLEP’s Local Growth Fund investment in MK Gallery reflects our commitment to supporting the high-quality cultural arts offer across the area. This contributes to the quality of life for residents, supports our strong visitor economy and strengthens our cultural and creative sector.'
Throughout construction, MK Gallery is delivering City Club, a programme of new art, performances, family activities, happenings and talks inspired by the original cultural plans for Milton Keynes. Further details can be found here.