World first for UEA's art gallery

LORNA MARSH Norfolk's premier art gallery has clinched an exclusive world first to mark the launch of its £10m overhaul. The world-renowned Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, at the University of East Anglia, opens again on May 21 after nearly two years.

LORNA MARSH

Norfolk's premier art gallery has clinched an exclusive world first to mark the launch of its £10m overhaul.

The world-renowned Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, at the University of East Anglia, opens again on May 21 after nearly two years.

It has had major changes designed by Foster and Partners to include new entrances, more exhibition areas, a visitor reception and shop spaces and a dedicated education studio.


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The centre will also have a refurbished café and improved access for visitors with disabilities as well as a link between the main building and the Crescent.

And its re-launch will be marked by the largest exhibition ever mounted on Polynesia.

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Pacific Encounters, which will be free, brings together for the first time material from 18th and 19th century Polynesian collections in Britain and abroad.

Despite the UK holding the most comprehensive collection in the world much of the material is little-known and seldom exhibited.

But 270 extraordinary sculptures, ornaments, textiles and valuables will be brought together to explore Polynesia during a the period when first contact was made with European visitors.

They include massive temple images, regalia and tools from all three of Captain Cook's voyages and those from the voyages of Captain Bligh and Captain Vancouver.

They are constructed from exotic material like feathers, ivory, jade, pearl shell and sharks' teeth and many had important roles in Polynesian religion and culture.

On display for the first time will be a four-metre canoe composed of 45 sections of wood tied together with coconut husk fibre cord and collected in 1767 during the voyage of HMS Dolphin.

Sainsbury Centre director Nichola Johnson said: “Our status as a university museum has given us the opportunity to create an international ground-breaking exhibition in Norwich, which combines serious academic research with fabulous eye-catching displays.”

Steven Hooper, exhibition curator, said: “From gorgeous Hawaiian feather cloaks to exquisite Tahitian fish hooks, there will be something in this exhibition for everyone to enjoy.”

Pacific Encounters runs from Sunday May 21 to Sunday August 13 every day except Mondays. It will be open 10am to 5pm, opening until 8pm on Wednesdays. Admission is free.

t www.scva.org.uk

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