Refurbishment of historic house begins

Picture caption: The Lotherton Hall Costume Galleries, which are set to be transformed into a 21st century display space.

An exciting refurbishment programme has now officially started at one of the city’s most popular visitor attractions.

Once completed, this work will support the ambition of Lotherton Hall, which is one of Leeds most historic homes, to become a major museum of fashion and textiles through the revamp of its current exhibition spaces.

The redevelopment of the Fashion Galleries will create an up to date 21st century gallery space; with modern cases, improved lighting and the chance to utilise technology, which will allow opportunities to include new elements like film and sound in the galleries.

When concluded, Lotherton Hall will become one of the largest spaces in the north of England to provide a regular programme of fashion and textile exhibitions by having a changing show each year. Funded from the Department for Culture Media and Sport and Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund, the flexibility of the new galleries, will allow for more of the collection to be displayed, with the new modern cases creating greater hanging space for larger textiles. In addition new improved LED lighting will be introduced and security enhanced to ensure Lotherton Hall can look to borrow other fantastic pieces from other museum’s collections.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"It is really exciting news that work to transform one of most much loved visitor attractions Lotherton Hall, is now underway.

"As part of our wide-ranging programme, improvements set to be made include a revamp of our Fashion Galleries, and the installation of a new accessible toilet, passenger lift and chair lift which will significantly improve access to the house.

"When completed, this refurbishment will ensure that when the house reopens in March 2015, it remains somewhere where people can relax, have fun, and enjoy a range of fantastic exhibitions, events and activities for many, many years to come."

This work on the Fashion Galleries, sits aside a raft of other improvements set to be made at Lotherton Hall thanks to funding by Leeds City Council, Arts Council England, Leeds Art Fund and the Friends of Leeds Museums and Galleries, as well as an £150,000 grant from the Department for Culture Media and Sport and Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund. These include the installation of a new accessible toilet, passenger lift and chair lift, restoration of the historic library, and parts of the roof being replaced to ensure it is watertight. The introduction of a new biomass boiler that helps organisations pay for their green energy will also ensure there is more efficient heating in the house (partly funded from the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme).

Due to the range of refurbishment work being undertaken, this will mean that Lotherton Hall closes in January and February 2015 before its exciting reopening in March 2015, which will feature a debut exhibition Age of Glamour; Fashion from the Fifties.

Notes to editors:

Lotherton Hall is a charming Edwardian house and country estate. A single entrance price allows access to the house, with its wonderful collections of fine and decorative arts and a dedicated fashion gallery, as well as extensive grounds with an abundance of activities to keep everyone busy. The estate grounds include wildlife walks, formal gardens, the bird garden, historic stables, a deer park, playgrounds as well as gift shop and café. Lotherton Hall has undergone numerous changes over the last few years since becoming one whole visitor attraction. With this new and larger audience the house has adapted by improving access and introducing a new range of family-friendly facilities. These include the popular dressing-up room, curiosity cabinets and the Gascoignes Abroad interactive with stories of six family travels to different lands and sound and smell activities in the historic rooms. Other recent improvements have seen the re-opening of the Servants’ Rooms on the ground floor following a major restoration.

The dress and textiles collection at Leeds Museums and Galleries is recognised by the Arts Council’s Designation Scheme as a collection of national and international importance because of the quality and range of the items. From Elizabethan textiles and eighteenth century ladies dresses, to the latest Alexander McQueen coat, the collection gives us insight into 500 years of fashion and furnishings. As the main gallery for displaying Leeds Museums and Galleries’ dress and textiles collection and as one of the few places left in the region with a dedicated space for such displays, these galleries will be a unique feature for both Lotherton Hall and the people of Leeds.

Lotherton Hall has been displaying fashion since its early days of being a museum in 1968, showing fine examples of both historic and more contemporary fashions. In the late 1960s it was decided to build on the collection by acquiring more contemporary British designs and fashions. It is at this time that Lotherton Hall gained a reputation for curating innovative displays looking at contemporary fashion and showcasing British designers such as Jean Muir, Bill Gibb and Vivienne Westwood. There is now everything from high end fashion items collected for their excellence in cut, construction and aesthetic beauty - to items that have been collected because they have a unique and local significance to the area of Leeds and the surrounding Yorkshire region.

Address: Lotherton Lane, Aberford, Leeds, LS25 3EB

Tel: 0113 378 2959

Email: lotherton.hall@leeds.gov.uk

Web address: www.leeds.gov.uk/lothertonhall

See our member’s page for year round entry: www.leeds.gov.uk/lothertonmembers

Winter opening times (November to February) House*, café, shop and bird garden: 10:00 to 16:00 with last entry at 15:15. *Please note the house will be closed in January and February of 2015 due to redevelopment building works.

Summer opening times (March to October) House, café, shop and bird garden: 10:00 to 17:00 with last entry at 16:15. Estate gates: 07:30 to 20:00.

Arts Council England funds museums in a number of ways and with differing timescales. Major partner museums lead wide programmes of work for schools, families and lifelong learning. They develop excellent care and conservation; demonstrate innovative and engaging interpretations of their Designated collections; they focus on becoming sustainable organisations through increasing earned income; and they improve staff development through workforce training programmes. www.artscouncil.org.uk/funding

Leeds Art Fund was founded in 1912 and is one of the oldest supporting ‘friends’ organisations for the visual arts in Great Britain. They own outright or have helped to acquire more than 430 works for Leeds Art Galleries by artists including Warhol, Bacon and Moore and we continue to play a vital role in the purchase of contemporary and historic art. They also support publications, conservation and educational activities. Among recent acquisitions which the Leeds Art Fund has supported are: Northern Art Prize winner Pavel Büchler’s Fly; JMW Turner’s The Valley of the Washburn; and Thomas Pitts’ chinoiserie silver epergne of 1759. www.leedsartfund.org

Friends of Leeds City Museums was established over forty years ago the is an independent voluntary organisation of charitable status open to all for a modest membership fee. www.friendsofleedsmuseums.org

Department for Culture Media and Sport and Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund aims to provide capital funding for museums and galleries across England to deliver projects in one or a number of the following key areas:

a. Renovation and improvement of the display of exhibits in permanent galleries and exhibition spaces;

b. Improvements to public spaces and access to the collection;

c. Physical improvements to access for disabled visitors;

d. Physical improvements to collection interpretation;

e. Improvements to environmental controls in public access spaces and galleries, in the context of improvements to visitor experience.

The Wolfson Foundation is a charity that was established in 1955. The Foundation supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health, education and the arts & humanities. All funding is based on expert peer review. Over £750 million (£1.25 billion in real terms) has been awarded in grants to some 10,000 projects over the last 58 years.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk