The Serpentine Sackler Gallery gives new life to The Magazine, a former 1805 gunpowder store, located five minutes walk from the Serpentine Gallery on the north side of the Serpentine Bridge. With 900 square meters of new gallery, restaurant and social space, the Serpentine’s second space in Kensington Gardens will be a new cultural destination in the heart of London. From this autumn, the Serpentine will present its unrivaled program of exhibitions and events across both Galleries and into the Park.
The new Gallery is named after Dr Mortimer and Dame Theresa Sackler, whose Foundation has made the project possible through the largest single gift received by the Serpentine Gallery in its 43-year history. Major funding has also been awarded by Bloomberg, long term supporters of the Serpentine as well as sponsors of the opening exhibition.
In 2010 the Serpentine Gallery won the tender from The Royal Parks to bring the Grade II* listed building into public use for the first time in its 208-year history. The Serpentine Gallery has restored the building to an excellent standard, in partnership with The Royal Parks, renovating and extending it to designs by Zaha Hadid. A light and transparent extension complements rather than competes with the neo-classical architecture of the original building. It is the Zaha Hadid Architects’ first permanent structure in central London and continues a relationship between the Gallery and the architect, which began with the inaugural Serpentine Gallery Pavilion Commission in 2000. The landscape around the new building will be designed and planted by the world-renowned landscape artist Arabella Lennox-Boyd.
The opening exhibition in the Serpentine Sackler Gallery is the first UK exhibition by the young Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas, who is on the brink of gaining international renown for his dramatic, large-scale sculptural works. At the same time, in the Serpentine Gallery, there will be a major retrospective by Italian sculptor Marisa Merz, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Venice Biennale. A redesigned website will feature the inaugural Digital Commission, while the first annual Bridge Commission explores the route between the two galleries with a series of short stories by twelve internationally acclaimed writers. Each story is timed to last as long as it takes to walk from the Serpentine Gallery to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. The Serpentine’s expanded presence in Kensington Gardens will be illustrated by a specially commissioned map by the artist Michael Craig-Martin.
Responding to its unique location in The Royal Park of Kensington Gardens, an expanded programme of eight exhibitions will now follow the seasons with different shows in each gallery four times a year. The seasonal theme carries through to the wider programme with the Pavilion commission signalling the start of London’s summer and the multidisciplinary Marathon, a fixture of Frieze week in the autumn. The Serpentine’s programme of outdoor sculpture with The Royal Parks continues with Fischli/Weiss’s monumental Rock on Top of Another Rock, which remains in place until March 2014.
The opening of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery marks a new beginning for the internationally acclaimed arts organisation, which has championed new ideas in contemporary arts since it opened in 1970. The Serpentine Gallery has presented pioneering exhibitions of 1,600 artists over 43 years, from the work of emerging practitioners to the most internationally recognised artists and architects of our time such as Louise Bourgeois, Frank Gehry, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei.
All images © Luke Hayes