Drury Lane Library brought back into use as Art House reopens after £3m renovation

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More than a century since it was first built as a gift to the people of Wakefield, Drury Lane library has opened again, this time as an arts space.

The historic building has undergone a £3m renovation to make it part of the neighbouring Art House. And for the first time, the public will be able to view galleries and exhibitions in a new art project space.

The Art House, a charity which was formed in 1994 to provide facilities for disabled artists to work alongside non-disabled artists, was officially reopened with its new space yesterday. Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box formally launched the hub, on the international day of people with disabilities.

Kerry Harker and Ruth Lilley, The Art House interim directors, said: “The reopening of The Art House underlines Wakefield’s unique thriving arts offer and its growing reputation as a creative city to live, work and visit.”

Many of the former library’s original features have been restored including arts and craft tiles and parquet flooring. But the building has been transformed into 34 new art studios, a meeting room and flexible workspaces for the region’s artists.

Jane Glaister OBE, chair of The Art House, said: “We are delighted to see the this ambitious development completed and the historic Drury Lane library restored and occupied by a wide range of tenants. Our new space creates a platform to engage with artists and audiences.”

The renovation has been funded by the Arts Council and European Regional Development Fund.

To mark its completion, The Art House is hosting a ‘Wakefield Industrial Fine Art, 150 years’ exhibition featuring hand-printed wallpaper by designers Laura Slater and Fraser Muggeridge. It is open to the public from 10am until 4pm Tuesday to Thursday.