World-class contemporary art in Southampton
John Hansard Gallery is one of Britain’s leading public galleries of contemporary art. Part of the University of Southampton, we support, develop and present work by outstanding artists from across the world. Established in 1979, we are proud to play a dynamic role in the cultural life of Southampton and the region. We’re a place to visit for extraordinary experiences, where you can see and think about the world differently.
Our programme consists of five exhibitions per year in our main site in Highfield, alongside innovative off-site projects in other citywide locations and touring projects with galleries and institutions elsewhere in the UK and internationally. We aim to reveal the rich diversity of contemporary art, from emerging talents to major international figures, from solo projects to historical surveys, and from painting, sculpture and photography, to film, performance, installations and digital media. Rooted in a research-led ethos, our programme seeks to bring together rigorous scholarship and contemporary art practice, presented to the widest possible audience.
Learning is at the heart of everything we do. Throughout the year you can take part in events and activities for all ages, including artist talks and tours, creative workshops and panel discussions, plus seminars and conferences exploring the wider context of our exhibitions. We also lead a range of initiatives with schools and community organisations, including pioneering work with disadvantaged young people from the Solent region.
John Hansard Gallery actively supports the scholarship and publication of critical writing and has published over eighty exhibition catalogues, which are available to buy from our Shop. We regularly commission new writing as part of our ongoing publishing activities with artists.
At the heart of our programme is the belief that contemporary art can transform the way we look at - and understand – the world, and inspire people from all backgrounds and ages.
Southampton's new arts complex
In 2015 our long-awaited relocation to Southampton city centre will take place as part of a brand new arts complex, based on the old Tyrrell & Green site on Guildhall Square. The project, which also includes a new base for City Eye and a performing arts venue, is led by Southampton City Council and supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, in partnership with Grosvenor Developments Limited.
The arts complex will comprise around 75,000 sq ft of stunning gallery, performing arts and film/media studio space across two iconic buildings, as part of a proposed mixed-use development. Arts Council England have confirmed funding of £7.2 million towards the project, which represents a major milestone in bringing Southampton’s Cultural Quarter to fruition and will bring the Gallery’s programme to the heart of the city. (Image: Artists impression. Copyright CZWG)
The John Hansard name
The John Hansard Gallery is named after John Henry Hansard (1895–1979), an honorary graduate, good friend and benefactor of the University of Southampton, in recognition of his encouragement and interest in the visual arts. John Henry was a descendent of Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833) an early printer and publisher after whom the transcripts of parliamentary debates in Westminster are named.
Establishing the John Hansard Gallery
The John Hansard Gallery was created in 1979 under the leadership of the subsequent Gallery Director, Leo Stable and established by the Arts Council of Great Britain and the University of Southampton so that two existing galleries at the University could be united under one roof.
As one of only two purely photographic galleries in Britain outside of London, The Photographic Gallery, housed in the University’s Administration Building, enjoyed a strong national reputation. During the 1970s, the Fine Art Gallery, attached to The Nuffield Theatre (now the Nuffield café), mounted a number of outstanding exhibitions including Richard Long, Bruce McLean and an infamous performance by Genesis P. Orridge and Cosy Fanny Tutti. The new building identified to bring these galleries together, and the site occupied by the John Hansard Gallery today was originally a laboratory built in 1956 to house a giant tidal model of the Solent.
Our directorship history
Since its establishment in 1979, the John Hansard Gallery has been developed under the leadership of three Directors: founding Director, Leo Stable (1979–1980); Barry Barker (1980–1987); and Professor Stephen Foster (1987–date).
How we are funded
John Hansard Gallery is funded by the University of Southampton, its governing body. We are proud to be part of a world-class University and are one of a trio of outstanding arts organisations on the Highfield campus, alongside the Turner Sims and The Nuffield Theatre.
We are also hugely grateful for the ongoing support of Arts Council England, who have funded the John Hansard Gallery since its inception. John Hansard Gallery receives annual funding as a National Portfolio Organisation, in recognition of its national role as a key visual arts venue.
Our exhibitions and educational activities are further supported through additional fundraising each year via trusts, foundations and sponsorship.