Margate’s Turner Contemporary Plans a Bold $7 Million Expansion to Its Seafront Locale

The David Chipperfield-designed gallery looks to build on its success—but is the seaside town ready for a Tracey Emin wing?

Turner Contemporary Gallery, Rendezvous, Margate, Kent, 6th April 2011. Image courtesy Turner Contemporary.

Turner Contemporary is about to get bigger. The David Chipperfield-designed gallery in Margate on England’s southeast coast hopes to build on its success by expanding its seafront footprint, artnet News has learned.

The gallery is discussing a £5.3 million ($6.9 million) expansion project with partners and funders. Turner Contemporary’s waterfront home, which opened in 2001, cost around £17.5 million ($22.9 million).

“The next phase of Turner Contemporary will be designed to ensure that the organization is sustainable into the future,” said gallery director Victoria Pomery in a statement. “After six years of operation and 2.5 million visits, the gallery has been widely acknowledged as the model of arts-led regeneration.” The gallery has helped revive the local economy of the coastal resort, generating an estimated £58 million ($76 million) in the six years since it opened.

A spokesperson for Turner Contemporary confirmed the gallery is developing ideas for the expansion. Arts Council England is backing the scheme and has already approved a £3 million ($3.9 million) stage-one grant application. The gallery is working with its key funder, Kent County Council, to develop a stage-two application. The expansion could be completed by April 2021, according to a council report from September 15. Possible ideas for the expansion include a new building on the seafront adjacent to the existing gallery or converting an existing building.

The artist at her exhibition “Tracey Emin ‘My Bed’/JMW Turner” at Turner Contemporary, Margate, on view until January 14, 2018. Photo: Stephen White, courtesy Turner Contemporary.

Margate has become something of a magnet for the creative community in recent years, as artists have been priced out of inner London amid vanishing or unaffordable studios.

Artist Tracey Emin, who originally hails from Margate, recently announced that she will be moving back to her hometown. Speaking to artnet News ahead of the unveiling of a new installation of one of her most famous works, My Bed (1998), Emin said the seaside town has the potential to become a cultural center. “With the influx of creative people coming here en masse, I think Margate has got a really good chance of being a fantastic creative epicenter,” she said. “Why should everything happen in all the big cities anyway?” 

Emin’s return to Margate comes after she was refused planning permission for a David Chipperfield-designed studio and home in Spitalfields, east London, where she had lived for many years. Emin joked about turning Margate’s Turner Contemporary into the “Emin-Turner Contemporary.” “I think we’d have to have a very big extension, wouldn’t we?” she said.


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