Designed by the architects SN Cooke and EC Davies, the Ferens Art Gallery opened to the public in 1927. A modern extension was added in 1991 by Hugh Martin Partnership providing additional gallery rooms.
There is a strong collection of European Old Master paintings with a particular focus on portraiture, including works by Frans Hals, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Wyndham Lewis. The contemporary collection continues with the portraiture theme, extending the historical tradition of portraiture to include broader themes of the body and identity, with work by John Coplans, Nan Goldin, Alan Curell and Torsten Lauschmann.
The main galleries house a semi-permanent display of work from the collection, showing key items from the 16th to the 21st centuries. The permanent display of work within the gallery is supported by an annual themed exhibition which draws upon a different aspect of the collection.
The train journey to Hull feels like an adventure. Under the Humber Bridge, skirting the water for much of the journey, the Ferens is worth whatever trip is required. The collections, housed in a wonderful civic building in the centre of the city, tell the story of another period of city pride and patronage. This is an important collection, hung with great care. The majority of the contemporary video works by artists such as Alan Currel are shown alongside the modern and historic collection. Hull is made great, in part, thanks to the Ferens.
Nan Goldin My Parents Kissing on their Bed, Salem, Massachusetts 2004
Gillian Wearing Self Portrait as My Uncle Bryan Gregory 2003
Duff House #2 2000
Thomas Ruff Portrat (V. Levchenya) 2000
Alan Currall Survival Kits Shipwreck Plane Crash and Nuclear War (still) 1997
Nan Goldin My Parents Kissing on their Bed, Salem, Massachusetts 2004 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, cibachrome, edition 2 of 15, 70 x 101.5cm, ©the artist courtesy: the artist and Galerie Yvon Lambert
Gillian Wearing Self Portrait as My Uncle Bryan Gregory 2003 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, digital C-print, edition 6 of 6, 124 x 82.5cm, ©the artist courtesy: Maureen Paley, London
Duff House #2 2000 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, C-print, edition 2 of 3. Purchased by the Contemporary Art Society for Ferens Art Gallery, Hull as part of the Special Collection Scheme, 76 x 94cm, ©the artist courtesy: the artist and The Agency, London
Thomas Ruff Portrat (V. Levchenya) 2000 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, C-print, edition 2 of 4, 210 x 165cm, ©the artist courtesy: the artist and David Zwirner, New York
Alan Currall Survival Kits Shipwreck Plane Crash and Nuclear War (still) 1997 Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, DVD, ©the artist courtesy: the artist