The Hatton Gallery

Client: Newcastle University

The Hatton Gallery opened in 1926 as Newcastle University’s public Fine Art Gallery. It occupied one room and was surrounded by teaching studios. It is now four large gallery spaces plus smaller rooms for study/teaching, a shop and ancillary accommodation. These spaces sit beside the 1912 Edward VII building, located on the University Old Quad (grade II listed), in a Shepherd Robson extension from the 1960s. Although our client was The University of Newcastle, the Gallery is run by the Newcastle City Council through Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) for the public. The project was funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The results of our work draw on the contrasting aspects of the Gallery’s own heritage with two architectural approaches. Historic galleries are conserved and refurbished and the 1960s galleries are re-presented as crisp, contemporary gallery spaces for use by TWAM for rotating and temporary exhibitions and by the University for student work.

The internal plan had become confusing to navigate and was not welcoming to the public who simply understood The Hatton to be another University building. The Gallery no longer met curatorial needs in terms of storage and display, and existing facilities did not adequately facilitate life long learning. LDN’s scheme restores clarity to the circulation pattern, uses views into the galleries to invite visitors to move into the depth of the building and places a new education room at the heart of the Gallery. The final shape of the proposals arose through extensive consultation with curatorial and University staff and students, which took the scheme through several iterations, to satisfy sometimes competing end user demands.

The main focus for the Listing is the main entrance foyer and the original room that formed the Hatton Gallery. The decorative quality of both of these areas with their columns, pilasters, decorative timber linings and tiles, and plasterwork ceiling relief was conserved and the clutter of ad-hoc services installations were removed. In the 1960’s galleries, floors were sanded, ceilings replaced or removed, where possible, to maximise internal height and services upgraded with new air supply systems and exhibition lighting. A mezzanine and a lecture theatre had been modified greatly over the years and so the existing detrimental insertions were cleared out so that new picture stores and offices could be formed. New M+E installations were sympathetically located and cables fished through existing voids. Insulation was incorporated into the external building fabric, where previously there had been none, and new high-efficiency boilers installed.

Brought to Newcastle from Cumbria in the 1960s, Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbarn is a permanent installation at the Hatton. It was protected during the works, re-presented in a dedicated gallery as part of the works and  conserved following the building project. Research into this important and valuable artefact dictated the new layout of the surrounding spaces and new interpretive material was introduced to improve physical and intellectual access.

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