Liverpool isn’t short of great art galleries, from Tate Liverpool, with its blockbuster programme, to dedicated photography gallery Open Eye. As in cities the world over, their temporary closure over the last few months has been an urgent reminder of just how important these spaces and all that they offer are.
But culture has far from ground to a halt. The explosion of agility and resourcefulness that has been shown by artists and organisations in response to the restrictions imposed by lockdown has been incredible to witness. Exhibitions have been reincarnated using VR technology; timely programmes reinvented for the online sphere; creative care packages delivered to local residents’ doors; historic collections brought to life digitally; and new artworks commissioned specifically for sofa-based experiences.
We won’t lie, the freedom of being able to wander around a gallery and experience works IRL is still sorely missed, however. Which is why the news that many of Liverpool’s most loved art institutions are on the cusp of reopening is more than welcome. It’s not quite business as usual, so make sure you check each venue’s website for full information beforehand. But otherwise, grab a hand gel and face mask, here’s what we know so far.
Here are our picks
Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3 8EL - Visit now
Good news, the Walker Art Gallery is now open! This small but perfectly formed traditional gallery, a stone’s throw from Liverpool Lime Street station, houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative art from the 13th century to the present day (including some excellent Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces), and is welcoming visitors back once more. Just book a ticket online in advance and you’ll be able to walk among its much-loved permanent displays from today onwards or visit its major Linda McCartney from 8 August.
Tate Liverpool, Albert Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3 4BB - Visit now
The northern outpost of arguably one of Britain’s most important arts institutions reopens on 27 July. Entry remains free for everyone but all visitors will need to book a timed ticket online in advance. One-way routes around the gallery will be in place, guiding you through each of the rooms and taking in highlights such as Chris Ofili’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’, Pablo Picasso’s ‘Girl in a Chemise’ and Bridget Riley’s ‘Cantus Firmus’. The long-awaited arrival of Tate Liverpool’s next blockbuster exhibition, Don McCullin (originally presented at Tate Britain last year to great acclaim) will also open on 16 September.
Bluecoat, Bluecoat Chambers, School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX - Visit now
The oldest building in the city centre will be throwing open its doors once again on 30 July. Gallery visiting hours will be slightly more limited than usual (Thursday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm) and booking a ticket online in advance is recommended as visitor numbers will be restricted. Find out more about Bluecoat’s latest exhibitions, Frances Disley: Pattern Buffer and Jonathan Baldock: Facecrime.
FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 4DQ - Visit now
Since opening in 2003, Liverpool’s FACT (AKA the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) has supported artists working with new media, commissioned and exhibited countless (and occasionally seminal) artworks and dedicated itself to digital media. Its galleries will reopen on 12 August with the major new exhibition, And Say the Animal Responded?, continuing its year-long exploration of The Living Planet.
OUTPUT in Liverpool, 32 Seel Street, Liverpool, L1 4BE - Visit now
Run by Gabrielle de la Puente (one half of The White Pube), OUTPUT is a small gallery in Liverpool city centre. It works exclusively with creatives from or based in Merseyside in order to support the development, mobility and strength of the local art scene – a particularly laudable aim right now, during a time that’s particularly hard for artists. Happily, it’s been able to re-work its programme and is preparing to reopen on 6 August with an exhibition of moving image work by artist Chila Kumari Burman.
Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, 19 Mann Island, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool, Merseyside, L3 1BP - Visit now
Open Eye is one of the UK’s best-such galleries, an independent photography space and archive in Liverpool with a 35 year-plus history. Though the building itself remains temporarily closed, its regular programme of exhibitions will return shortly. In the meantime, check out a VR edition of its popular 2018/19 exhibition, Wake Up Together, and the range of online talks, courses and new commissions that have been made available during lockdown.