Turner Contemporary marks 10th anniversary

Turner Contemporary Credit Hufton + Crow

Today marks 10 years since Turner Contemporary first opened its doors to visitors in 2011.

The art gallery opened in 2011, 10 years after the organisation behind it was first formed, on the same site as the boarding house where artist J. M. W. Turner stayed when visiting the town

Designed by Sir David Chipperfield, the building has been visited by prominent guests including Queen Elizabeth II  on 11 November 2011, and Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge  on 11 March 2015.Previous Prime Minister David Cameron also visited the gallery on 4 July 2013 to celebrate Ramsgate’s London Array windfarm.

Oscar Murillo, Turner Prize 2019, courtesy Turner Contemporary and the artist. Photograph by David Levene 25/9/19

The Turner Prize 2019 was held at Turner Contemporary from September 2019 to January 2020 with the combined win for the four artists announced in December 2019.

The exhibition at Turner Contemporary attracted 141,550 visits.  It was the gallery’s most popular Autumn exhibition ever and was the second most visited Turner Prize exhibition of all time since it was established in 1984.

Over the last 10 years the gallery has exhibited the work of over 2000 artists and put £70million back into the Kent economy. Last year a new £20 note went into circulation which also featured the building.

Totality by Katie Paterson. Photo: Ben Blackall

Exhibitions and events have included work from People Dem Collective, Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, art from schoolchildren and even a visit from a ‘polar bear.’

Photo by Manu Palomeque

Many people have grown up with the gallery and the learning and educational opportunities it provides; 100,000 local children and young people have worked with Turner Contemporary since 2011.

Over the next year, Turner Contemporary will be sharing stories and reflections from the last decade and  will be looking towards the future and planning for the next 10 years and beyond. ​

Tracey Emin with the My Bed installation

Improvement works have been taking place at the gallery, including   a redesigned retail area which will showcase products and artworks from the gallery’s creative community, new and additional toilet facilities, new café furniture, installation of lighter doors to each of the galleries and faster Wi-Fi.

Children at Turner Contemporary Photography by John Sainsbury

The CCTV system will be upgraded, and a new finishing kitchen will improve the capacity of the café and enable it to stay open during events.

Barletta has recently been announced as the new partner for the gallery café.

Where it began

In 1998, the leader of Kent County Council and representatives of Kent Artists met to discuss the idea.

At the same time, plans were being developed to create a cultural quarter in Margate’s Old Town.

In the late 1990s, Kent County Council offered to fund and support the building of a new landmark gallery (later joined by Arts Council England and the South East England Development Agency).

In 2001, Turner Contemporary was officially established, Victoria Pomery was appointed as director and Droit House on Margate’s stone pier was opened as the exhibition space.

A competition for the gallery design was originally won by architects Snøhetta + Spence but their proposal was abandoned in February 2006 due to technical problems and escalating costs

In July of that year David Chipperfield Architects were appointed to the project.

From 2008 to 2011, the building was constructed on Margate’s seafront

The gallery building designed by David Chipperfield Architects opened on 16 April 2011.

In 2010, Turner Contemporary became an independent charitable trust.

Positioned on a plinth to protect it from the high winds and sea, the building is made up of six identical interlocking north-facing rectangular blocks.

The £17.4m building project was funded by Kent County Council (£6.4m), Arts Council England (£4.1m), the South East England Development Agency (£4m)] and Turner Contemporary Art Trust (£2.9m). Thanet District Council provided the land.