Funded and built by local contractor Philip Horsman from designs by Birmingham architect Julius Chatwin, Wolverhampton Art Gallery opened in May 1884.
A Grade II* Listed building, the sculptural frieze on the outside features 16 characters each representing an element of arts and crafts, from painting and pottery to architecture and metalworking. Science is also represented. The School Of Art, built to the rear of the new building, was opened at the same time and has since been incorporated into the gallery.
From early donations of art by several leading local figures, including industrialist Sidney Cartwright and Horsman, whose contributions to Wolverhampton are marked by a fountain next to the gallery, in St Peter’s gardens, the collection quickly grew in size and reputation. A new extension in 2007 included a dedicated Pop Art gallery and additional space for special exhibitions, while the Victorian Gallery was refurbished in 2009.
Regularly changing exhibitions and displays reveal trends and themes, with contributions from major UK and international artists, both historic and contemporary. Work included ranges from painting, printing, drawing, photography and sculpture, to digital and installation art.