Architect Leo Godlewski designed The Harley Gallery, which opened in 1994 and the gallery was constructed within the ruins of the Victorian gasworks, which were built by the 5th Duke of Portland.
This grade one museum facility won a Civic Trust Award for Architecture and a Tourist Board Special Award for Excellence and The Harley Foundation and the European Regional Development Fund funded the project.
Visitors came along to mark the milestone birthday of the award-winning gallery, which over the years has showcased contemporary art exhibitions from artists including Sir Peter Blake and Andrew Logan to the gallery’s latest exhibitors; the highly acclaimed artists, Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry.
The celebrations opened with a speech by William Parente, chair of the Trustees of The Harley Foundation, before visitors enjoyed birthday cake and a celebratory drink and were invited to look around the exhibition.
Artisan food, barbecue, picnics and children’s activities took place within the Courtyard at Welbeck during the day, along with exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of the Welbeck Village and Welbeck’s Victorian Kitchen Garden.
The Welbeck Estate, which is one of Nottinghamshire’s ducal estates, is not normally open to the public so tickets for the behind-the-scenes tours sold out within an hour of going on sale. During the day visitors were able to take part in a competition to win a private tour for a party of five to go on a tour of the 5th Duke of Portland’s building programme, now known as Welbeck Village.
Lisa Gee, director of the Harley Gallery, said: “It was lovely for us to welcome so many people to our 25th anniversary celebrations, particularly artists we have worked with and regular visitors who have supported us for so many years.
"In William’s speech he spoke of the power of art and creativity to sustain and grow communities and the party on Saturday was a testament to that.”
Ivy, Duchess of Portland set up The Harley Foundation in 1978. It is a charitable trust which works to encourage the enjoyment of the visual arts and to celebrate the handmade.
The Foundation works to create spaces where the imagination can flourish. It funds The Harley Gallery and The Portland Collection, which have both won awards for their architecture. The galleries are in The Courtyard at Welbeck, they are free to enter and show a changing programme of art exhibitions.
The Harley Gallery shows exhibitions from leading contemporary artists and makers, with exhibitions changing roughly five times a year.
The newest addition at The Harley Gallery is a purpose-built gallery space for The Portland Collection, which was designed by Hugh Broughton Architects and opened in March 2016.
It won a RIBA National Award 2016 and four RIBA East Midlands 2016 Awards, including East Midlands Building of the Year.
The Portland Collection displays the historic art collection of the Dukes of Portland and their families, who have been at Welbeck since 1607. Further objects are often shown, for example in the miniatures and book displays. The gallery will be entirely rehung with a new selection of pieces from the Collection every 3 years.