The Serpentine Sackler Gallery gives new life to The Magazine, a former 1805 gunpowder store, located seven minutes’ walk from the Serpentine Gallery on the north side of the Serpentine Bridge. With 900 square metres of new gallery, restaurant and social space, the Serpentine’s second space in Kensington Gardens is a new cultural destination in the heart of London. This autumn, the Serpentine presents its unrivalled programme of exhibitions and events across both Galleries and into Kensington Gardens.
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 Philanthropies. Bloomberg is a long term supporter of the Serpentine as well as sponsor of the opening exhibition.
In 2010 the Serpentine Gallery won the tender from The Royal Parks to bring the Grade II* listed Magazine 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 Architects. A light and transparent extension complements rather than competes with the neo-classical architecture of the original building. It is Zaha Hadid Architects’ first permanent structure in central London and continues a relationship 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 designer 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 gaining international renown for his dramatic, large-scale sculptural works. At the same time, in the Serpentine Gallery, there is a major retrospective of the work by Italian sculptor Marisa Merz, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
The first annual Bridge Commission explores the route between the two Galleries with a series of texts 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 is illustrated by a specially commissioned map by the artist
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 multi-disciplinary 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.
From Munition Depot to 21st Century Exhibition Space
The Magazine, built in 1805, was designed as a munitions store for the safe-keeping of gunpowder during the Napoleonic wars. Since then it has been at the turning point of over two hundred years of London’s history: the city’s recreation grounds and royal gardens, a landscape for military parades, home to the Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851, site for patriotic celebration as well as revolutionary anger. Improved by Decimus Burton in the 1820s, the building stands in front of the Serpentine Bridge, designed by John Rennie and completed between 1825-28.
In September 2013, the Grade II* listed building was brought into public use for the first time by the Serpentine Gallery and The Royal Parks, and transformed into the Serpentine Sackler Gallery designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. From the autumn of 2013 the Serpentine presents its pioneering programmes across both Galleries and out into the landscape of Kensington Gardens.