Liverpool's centre for the contemporary arts

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Welcome to 2017 and a special year for Bluecoat: our 300th anniversary.

Welcome to 2017 and a special year for Bluecoat: our 300th anniversary. Here our Chief Executive Mary Cloake offers an insight into Bluecoat's longstanding and significant relationship with the city of Liverpool, how we'll be starting our 300th anniversary celebrations, and why 2017 is such an important year for Bluecoat.


The oldest building in both Liverpool city centre and the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, we’re also the UK’s first arts centre. We’re celebrating this with a year-round programme of exhibitions and events rediscovering the building’s heritage, as well as presenting some of today’s most exciting new art, dance, music and literature.

Bluecoat has a long and distinguished history of presenting contemporary art. Monet was shown here in 1908 and was followed in 1911 by a ground-breaking Post-Impressionist exhibition, featuring works by artists such as Picasso and Matisse. The building’s future as a centre for the arts was secured in 1927 with its purchase by the Bluecoat Society of Arts, whose custodianship we continue to this day.

On 4 February we launch 300 days of celebration, during which we will tell the story of the building – its early 18th-century origins and connections to Liverpool’s maritime mercantile culture, and its transition from charity school to arts centre. Follow us on social media to see daily facts we will be releasing about this colourful history.

At the same time, we open Public View, a special exhibition that brings together artworks by many artists we have supported over the past five decades. Bluecoat is thriving as Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts because of the vision of its founding artists and supporters, and the imagination and inventiveness of artists from Britain and around the world who have contributed to it ever since.

Accompanying the gallery exhibitions will be a series of displays across the year, taking place as part of My Bluecoat, which will tell our 300 year history. With support from Heritage Lottery Fund, My Bluecoat is a collaboration with Liverpool Record Office and the Blue Coat School, which originally occupied the building before moving to its present home in Wavertree. There will be plenty of opportunities to join in this heritage project, and we want to hear your own Bluecoat stories.

In February we also introduce our Sociologist-in-Residence, Dr Paul Jones from the University of Liverpool, who will be with us throughout 2017. He will be looking at how Bluecoat engages with the city and the role of art in civic life, opening up debates about art, architecture and society for all to participate in.

Our Artistic Director Bryan Biggs, has drawn on his long involvement with and knowledge of Bluecoat to curate the programme for 2017. We hope it will highlight to people the impact of our work over time. Above all we would like to pay tribute to the support of the people of Liverpool which has enabled Bluecoat to be at the very heart of Liverpool’s cultural life for many decades: we look forward to developing and enriching our engagement with the city through 2017 - and beyond.

Mary Cloake

Chief Executive


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About the Bluecoat

Bluecoat is Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, the oldest in the UK. Our landmark building, located in the ...

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Mon - Sat 9.00am - 6.00pm
Sun 11.00am - 6.00pm

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0151 702 5324 |

Who's blogging?

October Half Term at Bluecoat

published by Barry

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