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 gallery, restaurant and social space, the Serpentine’s second space in Kensington Gardens is a new cultural destination in the heart of London.
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 inaugural exhibition by Adrian Villar Rojas.
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.
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.
The Bridge Commission is an audio series launched to coincide with the opening of the new space. It 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 Michael Craig-Martin.
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.