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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 15:04 GMT
Revamped art gallery ready to open
The gallery makeover has cost 4.3m
The main gallery walls have been painted pea green
Decorators have put the finishing touches to a Liverpool art gallery which reopens on Friday following a 4.3m makeover.

The refurbishment of the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool has seen a 1930s extension to the Victorian building transformed into modern gallery.

Many rooms in the city centre building have been closed to the public for years.

In the disused spaces, four new exhibition galleries have been created, as well as a foyer, and a space for showing light-sensitive watercolours, prints and drawings.

The new galleries are beautiful spaces in which to show art

Julia Treuherz, Walker Art Gallery
The first works to adorn the pea-green walls of the main gallery are by acclaimed portrait painter George Romney, who died 200 years ago.

Curator Alex Kidson has spent nine years bringing together 53 of the artist's works to be exhibited in public for the first time.

The exhibition, which will eventually transfer to the National Portrait Gallery in London, also reunites individual portraits of Dr James Ainslie and his wife Margaret Ainslie for the first time since 1908.

'New era'

The revamp, carried out after the Walker closed to the public in June 2001, has also included the refurbishment of two 17th century galleries which house works by Rembrandt and Poussin.

The reopening represents the end of the second phase of a 40m National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside building project.

Alex Kidson, curator of the Romney exhibition, with portraits of Lady Hamilton
Rooms in the building have been refurbished

The scheme has been backed by 28m from the Heritage Lottery Fund - the largest grant ever made to a museum.

A further 3.65m has been awarded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Julia Treuherz, keeper of galleries, said: "The new galleries are beautiful spaces in which to show art and will enhance the Walker's reputation as the national gallery of the north.

"This is the start of a new era for the Walker as a gallery not only housing one of the most important collections of fine art in the UK but as a venue for stimulating must-see exhibitions."

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