The Village Hall Trust Gallery
After many months of planning and sheer hard work, an “unusable” space in the Village Hall has been transformed into a wonderful art gallery. The official opening was 1st March, but the doors opened for the first exhibition on 4th February. Some 55 historic watercolours of Wimbledon, painted over two centuries between 1780 and 1985, went on display in a show entitled “Town and Country Wimbledon”. This exhibition has now ended and details of current exhibitions, held by the museum, will be listed in this section, so check back regularly for updates.
What will be on display in the gallery
This the first opportunity to see many of the works collected by the Museum of Wimbledon since its foundation 96 years ago in 1916. The paintings have been acquired through donations, bequests and works by new local artists. The new gallery provides an extension to the Museum itself at 22 Ridgway and entry to the exhibition is via the Museum’s Perry Room on weekend afternoons.
How public art exhibitions in Wimbledon began
Public art exhibitions in Wimbledon date back to 1876 when the Wimbledon Art & Benevolent Society staged its first charity fund-raising show of oils and water-colours in the Village Hall. This became an annual event and gradually diversified to include photographs, wood carving, sculpture, book binding and needlework. The Art & Benevolent Society changed its name in 1906 to the Wimbledon Arts and Crafts Society.
In that year, Richardson Evans, then a recent founder of what later became the Wimbledon Society, appealed to local artists to lend pictures for an exhibition illustrating ‘Old and Picturesque Wimbledon’ before it disappeared forever. Many of the pictures loaned became permanent and helped create a collection for the Museum after it was established at the Village Hall during the First World War.
Future use of the gallery
Future "Museum of Wimbledon" exhibitions in the new gallery will feature the hundreds of other images from the collection, which also includes photographs, topographical engravings, sketches, 19th century steel engravings and newsprint, original drawings and etchings. "Town and Country Wimbledon" runs until 29th April 2012.
After that, until the next exhibition by the museum itself, the gallery will be used by local artists and schools with access via the Village Hall entrance in Lingfield Road.
An artist's impression of the gallery - early 2011
Development work begins - August 2011
The finished gallery displaying the opening exhibition - February 2012