A major milestone in the construction of Middlesbrough’s new art gallery was reached when Lord Melvyn Bragg joined Ray Mallon, the elected Mayor of Middlesbrough, to lay the last piece of blockwork on the roof terrace at mima Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.
The topping out ceremony marked the completion of the £19.2m gallery’s main structure which reaches a height of 18 metres and is situated in the town centre between the Carnegie Library and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s sculpture, ‘Bottle of Notes’.
Miller Construction is building the new venue which was designed by the leading international Dutch architect Erick Van Egeraat. Work on site started in July 2004 with completion of the development scheduled for March next year. The venue will be open to the public in late summer of 2006. Godfrey Worsdale, director of mima said: “We are delighted to have Lord Bragg to perform the topping-out ceremony for mima.
Melvyn is a passionate campaigner, advocate and practitioner of the arts and it is fantastic to have such a well-recognised figure support our project.
“The mima project will have fantastic results for the whole of Middlesbrough, and will place us on the cultural map. As well as showing leading-edge exhibitions by contemporary international artists, it will be an important space, locally, regionally and nationally, to display the best of modern art from 1900 to the present day. We also have an important collection in Middlesbrough and this building, set in a new civic square, will be a fitting venue and location to make the most of this asset.”
Lord Melvyn Bragg said: “I am delighted to come to Middlesbrough to perform the 'topping out' ceremony for mima. All over the country the most progressive cities are revitalising themselves in many ways, not least of all in the arts and I see this as a demonstration through Middlesbrough's commitment to a great 21st century future.”
Ray Mallon, Mayor of Middlesbrough, added: “This is a major milestone in this flagship development for the town. “It may come as a surprise to many to learn that Middlesbrough is home to a leading collection of contemporary art. Having such a showpiece gallery in mima means that we can now exhibit those assets as they should be seen and bring in leading-edge art and design to the town and the wider region. “These are exciting times for Middlesbrough and not just in the arts. mima is just one of the several developments that are coming on stream that will boost the local economy and really put us on the map.”
Tom de la Motte, regional director, Miller Construction, said: “Today’s ceremony marks a significant point in the mima project and Miller Construction is delighted to be part of the celebrations. We are now on our way to providing Middlesbrough with a first class building that will become a landmark in the town.”
Attending the ceremony were representatives of the partners behind the new art gallery including Middlesbrough Council, Arts Council England, One NorthEast, Tees Valley Partnership, Government Office for the North East, the Northern Rock Foundation and The Foyle Foundation. mima Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art will be a landmark venue hosting internationally important exhibitions. It will bring together the town’s art and craft collections for the first time. mima will also host formal and open gallery spaces, an education suite, auditorium, cafe-bar, roof terrace and conservation studio.