Designed by controversial young architects Peter St John and Adam Caruso, the aim of the building is not only to house the impressive Garman Ryan Collection, but also to regenerate the bleak inner-city landscape of Walsall. The gallery soars out of the corner of an ugly shopping centre, its walls scattered with 136 differently shaped, and seemingly randomly positioned, windows.
The New Art Gallery will be a permanent home to the prestigious but little known Garman Ryan Collection of over 350 works, donated to the people of Walsall in 1974 by Lady Kathleen Garman, the widow of Sir Jacob Epstein. The collection features a virtual A-Z of European Art, including works by Monet, Degas and Van Gogh. Unusually, the collection was created by two women: Kathleen Garman (Lady Epstein) and her friend Sally Ryan, between 1959 and 1973.