Dulwich Picture Gallery has been given planning permission by Southwark Council to undergo a major transformation of its south London site, which will see the creation of a free outdoor sculpture gallery and new spaces for schools and families.
Construction on the Open Art project is due to start this winter and complete by early 2025, with the gallery remaining open throughout. Architects Carmody Groarke have been appointed to design a new building to host creative-play sessions for under-8s and extend the existing Gallery Cottage to create a new space for school lunches, a family cafe and shop.
As part of the project, a new ground source heat pump will decarbonise the existing gallery’s heating systems alongside supplying new buildings. The new pavilion building and the extension to the existing cottage will be constructed with lightweight timber frames resulting in low embodied carbon construction.
Outside, landscape artist Kim Wilkie will transform a currently inaccessible field into the Lovington Meadow, an undulating land art form and an “art forest” of around 150 newly planted trees and wildflowers. The outdoor gallery, funded by the Lovington Foundation, will host a new biennial sculpture competition.
Dulwich’s existing gardens will also get a makeover. A series of interactive sculpture installations will join Walking the Dog by Peter Randall-Page, acquired in 2011, and Bronze Oak Grove by Rob and Nick Carter. Beech hedges between the meadow and gardens will be removed, opening views across the site and restoring elements of Sir John Soane’s original vision for the gallery when it was first designed in 1811.
“The vision for Open Art is grounded in the principles of innovation and inclusion which have defined the gallery since we first opened ,” said Jennifer Scott, the Dulwich Picture Gallery’s director. “This exciting project will transform our green spaces into London’s only gallery-based sculpture garden, providing new creative experiences for everyone, and inspiring the artists of the future.”
The redevelopment is expected to cost £4.6m. The gallery does not receive regular statutory or local authority funding, with revenue from ticket sales accounting for about 35% of its income. It is currently fundraising to support the project, which it anticipates will double visitor numbers and public engagement by 2035.