Penarth’s Turner House – the Grade II listed art gallery bequeathed to the people of town by local philathropist James Pyke Thomson will not be re-opening for Easter.
The gallery – which is held in trust for the people of Penarth by the National Museum of Wales – is sub-leased to the photographic charity Ffotogallery. At the end of November last year Ffotogallery abruptly closed Turner House without notice and in the middle of an exhibition which still had three weeks to run.
At that time, the Ffotogallery director David Drake had said:-
“We’re taking a short break from presenting new exhibitions at Turner House while we plan our programme for 2016/17.”
No date was given for any re-opening what Mr Drake described as “ a nationally important art gallery“.
In 1921 Turner House – along with its priceless collection of Turner paintings and drawings – had been handed over by Penarth Urban District Council to the National Museum of Wales on the basis that the Museum would continue to operate it as a gallery exhibiting works of art from its “reserve collection” there – artwork which currently languishes unseen in the Museum’s basements and storage facilities.
In 2003 however Turner House was leased by the National Museum to the “lens-based” charity Ffotogallery – purely for the exhibition of photographs.
Turner House has now been closed for 4 months – the longest closure in the gallery’s recent history – and although it’s understood there are plans to re-open the premises sometime in April with a photography exhibition, no firm date has yet been fixed and Ffotogallery has yet to say what the new exhibition will actually be .
Prominent figures in the local tourism industry say Turner House – centrally located as it is in Plymouth Road – could, and should, be a major attraction for visitors to Penarth as well as being a valuable resource for residents.
As of today Turner House remains closed – as it has been since November last year .
Alongside the main entrance is a future attractions noticeboard … It’s blank.
The full story of how Penarth lost its multi-million pound collection of Turner paintings – and Turner House itself – is on http://tinyurl.com/qc2hjdl