Sainsbury Centre to receive £325,000 to safeguard region's cultural heritage

Published by  Communications

On 16th Mar 2022

The Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA) has been awarded a grant of £325,000 by Arts Council England to implement a major remedial project to repair and protect its outstanding and historically significant modern architecture. 

The award will assist the University to repair the iconic glass facades of the building – a project costing over £600,000. Forty-four years since the Centre’s opening, thousands of people have visited, including The Queen in 2017. It also played host to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow in 2013 and was the Avengers headquarters in the Marvel films, Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015 and Avengers: Infinity War. 

The grant is part of a scheme where galleries, museums, libraries, and cultural venues across the country, including the Sainsbury Centre are to benefit from almost £50 million of funding which will improve people’s access to the arts, safeguard cultural assets for future generations and power economic growth through culture. 

The building, the brainchild of Norman Foster, is one of the greatest modern art museums in the world.  Foster’s first public building, its architecture was born of a new technological spirit and uses a lightweight and extendable steel structure wrapped in a skin of glass and steel panels.   

Executive Director at the Sainsbury Centre, Professor Jago Cooper, said: “The impact of this grant will be transformative to the Sainsbury Centre and will help bring back to life the awesome splendour of the Foster designed space”. 

An outstanding feature of the building are its tall structural glass facades which now require repair after more than 45 years of wear of tear. The project to repair the damaged facades will protect the building and the collections it houses into the future.  Additional work will be undertaken to repair a blind system, crucial to protect art works from light damage. 

Arts Minister Lord Parkinson, said: "Improving access to local libraries and museums is a central part of our plans to level up access to the arts and culture across the country and I can’t wait to see the difference these awards make.” 

The Cultural Investment Fund will see £48 million distributed to 63 organisations. The Sainsbury Centre’s funding falls under the Museums Estate and Development Fund, which helps fund museum and local authority infrastructure projects and urgent maintenance works beyond their day-to-day budgets. 

Director of Development at UEA, David Ellis, said: “We are delighted to have received this generous grant from Arts Council England towards vital repair works at the Sainsbury Centre. It has made a very significant impact on our fundraising goal.” 

The announcement follows a concerted effort by the government to support the country’s vital cultural organisations. 

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