A former bank and school by Auckland Castle in County Durham are set to become the epicentre of Spanish art in the UK.

The gallery, slated to open in summer 2018, will showcase work from the late Medieval period to the late 20th century, including pieces by artists El Greco, Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Zurbarán.

Auckland Castle Trust, the driving force behind the project, has charged architects Feilden Clegg Bradley with transforming the disused bank and school into a three-level gallery, featuring a double-height atrium space for larger works.

Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley
Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley

‘Our designs accommodate the long-term use and development of the new institute, while remaining sensitive to the history and role of the buildings within the community,’ says architect Matthew Morrish from Feilden Clegg Bradley. The Spanish gallery forms part of plans for the wider area’s regeneration, which include the restoration of the Grade I-listed Auckland Castle nearby.

Feilden Clegg Bradley’s design also incorporates a research centre – a bid to attract academics to the gallery.

Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley
Credit: Feilden Clegg Bradley

Once open, the museum will host educational programmes and cultural festivals dedicated to Spain and other Hispanic countries.

Adds Dr Christopher Ferguson, Auckland Castle’s curatorial director: ‘It will be a chance for people to view pieces by some of the best-known artistic names to come out of Spain’s Golden Age here in County Durham on the walls of what will be a major new venue and research centre.’

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