Set up in 1977 by Ivy, Duchess of Portland, The Harley Gallery is part of The Harley Foundation, a charitable trust. The Foundation aims to encourage the enjoyment of the visual arts and celebrate the handmade.

The Harley Gallery is home to the historic Portland Collection of fine and decorative art, which will be displayed from 2016 in a new purpose built facility. The Gallery is also known for it’s contemporary art exhibitions from leading modern artists.

The Gallery’s programme of contemporary exhibitions, an array of events and activities range from the biennial Open Exhibition, to opportunities for local schools to work with artists; and to tours of the State Rooms at Welbeck Abbey for visitors to see objects from The Portland Collection in their historic setting.

The Harley Foundation also provides services for artists through support schemes, retail opportunities in The Harley Shop and subsidised studio spaces. The Harley Studios provide space for up to 25 artists and makers to work, in the beautiful surroundings of the Welbeck Estate, Nottinghamshire.

Additional attractions include a café serving homemade meals and snacks, shop specialising in contemporary crafts, and childrens’ activity area.

About the Building

A grade one museum facility, The Harley Gallery has won a Civic Trust Award for Architecture and a Tourist Board Special Award for Excellence.

The Harley Gallery opened in 1994, having taken 3 years and 7 months to build. The building was designed by local architect  Leo Godlewski and constructed within the ruins of the Welbeck Estate gasworks. The gasworks were originally built in 1860 by the 5th Duke of Portland to light his network of underground tunnels and apartments. They finally closed in 1928 when the Estate moved over to electricity, and the building was then used as storage until 1990 when The Harley Gallery project began.

For architectural originality, sheer panache, quality of materials and attention to detail, The Harley Gallery can claim to be one of the best quality buildings created in England in the 1990s, and can bear comparison with anything recently completed. The whole scheme at Welbeck is a splendid combination of creative conservation and modern patronage.

John Martin Robinson, Architectural Historian

Godlewski designed The Harley Gallery and also managed the building project with a small team of specially picked master craftsmen. Taking inspiration from existing building work on the estate (including the brick built tunnels) and the industrial history of the original building, Godlewski created a building that reflects its industrial past, captures the grandeur of Welbeck and provides a beautiful backdrop for exhibitions.

The project was funded by The Harley Foundation and the European Regional Development Fund.

A further gallery will open in 2016, which will exhibit objects from The Portland Collection.


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