An exhibition of selected works from Frank Cohen’s internationally acclaimed collection of contemporary art is set to launch the new Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery, which opens its doors on Tuesday 1st April. The show features artwork by the likes of Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Damien Hirst and Charming Baker, as well as pieces from rising stars of the art world, championed by Cohen.
The exhibition will be the first to land in the spectacular main gallery space overlooking the town’s market square. This will be an entirely new offering for the town, which is seeking to establish itself as a venue dedicated to showcasing bold and thought-provoking contemporary art collections. The Frank Cohen exhibition leads with an animal theme, with the pieces chosen for the way they resonate with the museum’s historic collections.
Curator Adrian Plant says, “Charles Darwin is Shrewsbury’s most famous former resident and his influence can be felt throughout the historic collections. Each artwork in the Cohen exhibition in some way touches upon the connection between human beings and the animal world, and questions how much we can really know about history”.
Perhaps the most striking works include ‘The Big Kiss’ by Chinese artist Chen Lei, capturing a funny, romantic yet deeply political encounter between a young boy and a giant polar bear; ‘I Know I Know I Know’ a neon installation by Tracey Emin based on a teenage argument between the artist and her mother; and ‘Geococcyx Animatus & Canis Latrance Animatus’ by Korean artist Hyungkoo Lee, which sees a chase scene between the cartoon skeletons of Coyote and Road Runner playing out across the gallery space.
Other stand out artworks include early video installations by Bill Viola, a canine resin cast by YBA Abigail Lane, bronze animal masks by rising star Charming Baker, documentary photographs by Roger Ballen, Damien Hirst’s ‘Relationships’, and a portrait of Frank Cohen himself by Jake & Dinos Chapman. Works by John M Armleder, Jagannath Panda, Tomoaki Suzuki and Tania Kovats also feature.
The Frank Cohen exhibition will remain open until Monday 30th June. Speaking about the project, Cohen said “As a collector, there is great pleasure in acquiring artworks but there is also great satisfaction in being able to share, so that others may discover and enjoy these works as I have. I have welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery as I sincerely believe that, where possible, collections like mine should support regional ambitions in making access to great art possible”.
Owned and managed by Shropshire Council, and five years in the making, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery has seen the town’s Victorian Music Hall and a rare 13th century mansion become the focus of a groundbreaking restoration project to form its new home. The project has relocated the existing museum to a larger space, whilst the gallery is a completely new addition.
Visitors to the museum will find themselves on a journey of discovery that starts in the time when mammoths roamed, unlocking stories from across the entire county of Shropshire; stories of discovery and engineering creativity that influenced the world.
The entire collection has been reimagined for a modern audience, with exhibitions exploring subjects from geology to natural history via art, archaeology and costume.
Already much loved for its rich cultural scene and characterful stre
ets lined with timber-framed Tudor buildings, the project, costing more than £10million, is a significant investment in Shrewsbury’s cultural offer. The project has been funded by Shropshire Council, with additional support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, the European Regional Development Fund, the Art Fund, the Walker Trust, and the Friends of Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
Admission will be charged at £4.00 per adult and £2.00 per child. Concessions are available. For more information visit www.shrewsburymuseum.org.uk