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The Whitworth opens with a bang!

18 Feb 2015

Sir Kostya breathes on Graphene switch to set off fireworks - to let 18,000 visitors see £15 million reburbishment for first time

Sir Kostya Novoselov

The Whitworth is back! The University gallery reopened its doors on Valentine’s Day to welcome visitors again having been closed for over 16 months.

The gallery has been transformed by its £15 million redevelopment and on the weekend of 14 and 15 February went on to welcome just under 18,000 visitors – 17,938 to be precise -  2,000 more than the gallery used to get in an average month.

Highlights of the opening weekend included a live performance from the Halle Youth Choir with fireworks, talks with Jeanette Winterson, Cornelia Parker and many other University academics and a collaborative performance by Italian artist Nico Vascellari and French musician, Ghédalia Tazartès. At 10am on Saturday the gallery welcomed visitors for the first time since September 2013 with Brass Baby, an interactive art and music experience for the gallery’s very youngest visitors and their families.

Dr Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth, said: “The Whitworth's founding was that it be for the perpetual gratification of the people of Manchester.

“Watching nearly 18,000 people enjoy the new gallery this weekend showed just how special this place is. The support from the local community has been overwhelming and we hope that they will continue to enjoy the Whitworth for the next 126 years.”

At the VIP opening on Friday 13 February, guests experienced the first ever cultural use of graphene, comprising two artworks from artist Cornelia Parker.

Breath of a Physicist’ saw Kostya Novoselov, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of graphene, breathe upon a graphene sensor he made from a speck of graphite harvested from a drawing by William Blake in the Whitworth collection. Kostya’s breath on the graphene sensor triggered a meteor shower, ‘Blakean Abstract’, in the form of a firework display, inspired by Blake. The rockets were charged with iron from a meteorite that landed in Arizona 50,000 years ago.

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