I regularly write about galleries, museums and exhibitions in London. Living in London it’s easy to become London centric and imagine that all the best galleries are in this fair city. It’s good to be reminded once in a while that there are many, equally wonderful galleries all across the UK. There can be few better examples of this than the Lady Lever Art Gallery in the brilliantly named Port Sunlight on the Wirral.
This gallery was founded by William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925). Lever was a multimillionaire businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. At the age of 16 he left school to join his family firm. Two years later he set up Lever Brothers where he began to manufacture soap. As his company grew, he built a village to house his employees and named it Port Sunlight after his most successful brand of soap. The success of his company made him very rich. Art was one of his passions, and he used his enormous wealth to put together an outstanding collection. He built this gallery to give everyone the chance to see and be inspired by it and dedicated it to the memory of his wife Elizabeth. The breadth and variety of art housed here is wonderful. From Wedgwood and Jasper ware to a remarkable collection of contemporary sensual and erotic French sculpture. Paintings dating from the 1400’s to the early 20th century as well as the pictures that Lever used in his own advertising.
The exhibitions were brought to life for us by the guided tour we attached ourselves to. The tour guide was enthusiastic, and had a wealth of knowledge about Lever and the collections he was clearly thrilled to share.
There is so much to see here, but equally enjoyable is the building itself, with its fabulous glass domes and wide open spaces. The gift shop and cafe are also very good, and an essential component of any gallery visit in my opinion. Entry to the gallery is free and its success is very dependent on the numbers that pass through the doors. So if you live near or are visiting the area, do pay a visit and help ensure the ongoing survival of this fabulous gallery.The Lady Lever Art Gallery far exceeded any expectations I had and I hope to persuade the friends we were staying with to take us back next time we visit.
What other art galleries or museums around the UK would you recommend?
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