Turner Contemporary

Turner Contemporary is an art gallery in Margate, Kent, England, intended as a contemporary arts space and catalyst for the regeneration of the town.[2][3] The title commemorates the association of the town with noted landscape painter J. M. W. Turner, who went to school there, and visited throughout his life.[4]

Turner Contemporary
Sea in the foreground. Building under construction with two cranes
Turner Contemporary exterior
Turner Contemporary is located in Kent
Turner Contemporary
Location within Kent
Established16 April 2011
LocationMargate, Kent, England
Coordinates51°23′20″N 1°22′48″E / 51.389°N 1.380°E / 51.389; 1.380
TypeArt gallery
Collection sizeBritish and international art from 1750 to the present
DirectorVictoria Pomery[1]
WebsiteOfficial website
Turner Contemporary
Turner Contemporary

The original designs by Norwegian architects Snøhetta would have made the gallery part of the harbour itself. Some critics, however, questioned the prudence of placing part of Britain's national art treasures in a spot that is exposed to the full fury of the North Sea. The costs of the original design, and controversy over the decision to change its structure from concrete to steel,[5] have led to a legal battle, in an attempt to recover some of the costs.[6] It was later moved to a plot of land adjacent to the harbour, on the site of a boarding house where Turner once stayed.

The building was designed by David Chipperfield,[7] whose design for the 3 storey, 20 metres (66 ft) high[8] gallery has been criticized for being "alien, brutal and bleak".[9] It was built on the raised promenade following a flood risk analysis.[10] Construction started in 2008, and was completed for opening in April 2011,[11] at a cost of £17.5 million.[6] The gallery opened on 16 April 2011. 14,000 people visited in the first weekend[12] and 500,000 in its first year.[13] In August 2013 the gallery received its millionth visitor.[14]

The scheme has been supported by the artist Tracey Emin, who was brought up in Margate and opened it, and various funding bodies including Kent County Council, with a £6.4 million contribution,[15] Thanet District Council, who provided the land, South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), who provided £4 million,[15] the Arts Council England with support to the value of £4.1 million[15] and the European Union.[16] It is the largest dedicated visual arts venue in Kent.[1] It is a registered charity under English law.[17]

In November 2011, the venue received an award from the British Guild of Travel Writers, for an outstanding tourism project. Queen Elizabeth II visited Turner Contemporary on 11 November 2011, as part of a wider trip to Margate.[18]

The gallery has been criticised for emphasising cultural consumption and economic regeneration to the detriment of local residents.[19] In particular, research points out that, despite claims to anchor creative production, Turner Contemporary has failed to engage with local artists, and that the gallery underpins the erosion of the town's local peculiarity leading to concerns that "the features of the ‘traditional’ seaside were threatened by regeneration, and that the town may become a highly gentrified locale like, for example, parts of Brighton or Whitstable."[20]



  1. ^ a b "Victoria Pomery". Ebbsfleet Landmark. Archived from the original on 19 October 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Turner Contemporary". Art Rabbit. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  3. ^ Worthington, Caroline (July–August 2011). "Reviews — Turner Contemporary, Margate". Museums Journal. 111 (7/8): 46–49.
  4. ^ Darwent, Charles (25 January 2009). "Superabundant: A Celebration of Pattern, Turner Contemporary, Margate". The Independent. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Back to drawing board for gallery". BBC News. 8 February 2006. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Snøhetta's Turner Contemporary trial delayed due to complexity". The Architects Journal. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  7. ^ "New architect chosen for gallery". BBC.co.uk. 27 July 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  8. ^ "Chipperfield unveils Turner Contemporary design for Margate". Building Design. 19 June 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  9. ^ Sewell, Brian (14 April 2011). "What's this... Slough-on-Sea?". London Evening Standard.
  10. ^ Udale-Clarke, H.; Allsop, W.; Hawkes, P.J.; Round, P. (30 October 2008). "The new Turner Contemporary Gallery – an example of an urban coastal flood risk assessment". FLOODrisk.
  11. ^ "Rendezvous: 'this plan needs a rethink'". Your Thanet News. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  12. ^ "Margate's Turner gallery has 45,500 visitors". BBC News. BBC. 26 April 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2015. A total of 14,000 people visited on the opening weekend
  13. ^ Beached and hard to reach
  14. ^ "Turner Contemporary greets millionth visitor". BBC News. BBC. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b c "Funding Finally Secured For Margate's Turner Contemporary Gallery". Culture 24. 25 July 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  16. ^ "Turner Contemporary". Kent County Council. Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  17. ^ Charity Commission. TURNER CONTEMPORARY, registered charity no. 1129974.
  18. ^ Hutchinson, Amanda (11 November 2011). "Royal Visit to Margate's Turner Contemporary". South East Tour Guides. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  19. ^ Ward, J. (2016). "Down by the sea: visual arts, artists and coastal regeneration" (PDF). International Journal of Cultural Policy. 24: 121–138. doi:10.1080/10286632.2016.1153080.
  20. ^ Ward, J. (2016). "Down by the sea: visual arts, artists and coastal regeneration" (PDF). International Journal of Cultural Policy. 24: 121–138. doi:10.1080/10286632.2016.1153080.

External linksEdit