Is £12 million MK Gallery expansion the most expensive in Milton Keynes?

MK Gallery artists impression
MK Gallery artists impression

The MK Gallery extension which cost £12m to build will finally open its door next spring, it has been announced.

The building scheme, which has taken 18 months to compete, will double the size of the original gallery.

MK Gallery revamp in progress

MK Gallery revamp in progress

The cost of the expansion works out at more than £9,000 per square metre – four times that of an average two-storey house extension.

Designed by two artists in collaboration with London architects 6a, the extension will include five new exhibition galleries, a ‘Sky Room’ auditorium, a community and learning studio and a café.

The 6a website describes the polished stainless steel-clad building as: “A simple rectangular form wrapped in corrugated stainless steel.”

They say the design “recalls the rigorous grid that underpins the city.”

And they add: “Its polished facade shifts ambiguously between reflection and opacity, while a circular window frames views over the orbital landforms.”

Much of the cost has been met by grants from the Arts Council, Milton Keynes Council, SEMLEP, arts trusts and businesses.

MK Council also provides an annual handout of around a quarter of a million pounds.

“The funding recognised MK Gallery’s track record in delivering excellent and innovative local and international arts programmes,” states the gallery’s website.

Director Anthony Spira said: " “It is a source of immense pride to be bringing what will be a world class venue to MK.”

But MK Gallery has provoked criticism in the past because of the high subsidies it receives compared to the number of visitors it attracts.

In 2015 the Taxpayers’ Alliance group claimed the gallery was so heavily subsidised that each of its visitors that year had COST it £43. MK Gallery denied it and said the figures were incorrect.

The 1,287 sq metre extension has cost £9,324 per square metre. The cost of a two storey extension on a house, outside London, is between £1,800 and £2,250 per sq m.