Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

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Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (also known simply as Baltic, stylised as BALTIC) is a centre for contemporary art located on the south bank of the River Tyne alongside the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England. It hosts a frequently changing programme of exhibitions and events, with no permanent exhibition. It opened in 2002 in a converted flour mill.

Baltic's director is Sarah Munro who joined in November 2015, the first woman in its history to hold the position. Baltic is a registered charity under English law.[1]


The founding director, Sune Nordgren was appointed in 1997 and was integral in Baltic's pre-launch period, having overseen the building of the gallery and was there for the first one million visitors. After almost six years, Nordgren left to take up a new post as founding director of the National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway.[2] He was briefly succeeded by Stephen Snoddy who was only with the organisation for one year. Snoddy was succeeded as director by Peter Doroshenko in 2005, intended to increase visitor numbers and resolve the financial situation.[3] Doroshenko organized several exhibitions during his time at the Baltic, including Spank the Monkey.[4] In November 2007, Doroshenko left the gallery to head up the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev, Ukraine.[5] Since 2008, the director was Godfrey Worsdale, founding director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. Sarah Munro became director in November 2015.

Klara and Edda belly-dancing[edit]

On 20 September 2007, Baltic management contacted Northumbria Police for advice regarding whether or not a photograph should be displayed as part of the Thanksgiving installation, a forthcoming exhibition by American photographer Nan Goldin.[6] The photograph entitled Klara and Edda belly-dancing (which, along with the rest of the installation, is part of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection) features two naked young girls and had previously been exhibited around the world without objections.[7] The installation, which had been scheduled for a four-month exhibition, opened with the remaining photographs but closed after just nine days at the request of the owner.[8]

Turner Prize[edit]

In 2011, Baltic was the venue for the Turner Prize, this was the first time the event had been held outside of a London or Liverpool Tate in its 25 years.[9][10] The Turner Prize exhibition at BALTIC attracted over 149,000 visitors, more than at any previous Turner Prize exhibition.

The building[edit]

A photograph of the Baltic Flour Mill.
The mill in 1950

The Baltic Flour Mill was built by Rank Hovis to a late-1930s design by architects Gelder and Kitchen[11] and completed in 1950. It was extended in 1957 by the addition of an animal feed mill. The mill was closed in 1981.[11] It was one of a number of mills located along the banks of the Tyne, all of which, due to their size, were prominent local landmarks. The Spillers mill just downstream from the Baltic on the north bank of the river was demolished in 2011.[12] Another large mill was owned by the CWS and was located just upstream of Dunston Staithes. The site of this mill and the adjacent CWS soap works is now occupied by a residential development.

Dominic Williams of Ellis Williams Architects won an architectural design competition, managed by RIBA Competitions, in the mid-1990s to convert the 1950s Baltic Flour Mill into a centre for art. After ten years in the planning and a capital investment of £50m, including £33.4m from the Arts Council Lottery Fund, Baltic opened to the public at midnight on Saturday 13 July 2002.[13] The inaugural exhibition, B.OPEN, had work by Chris Burden, Carsten Holler, Julian Opie, Jaume Plensa and Jane and Louise Wilson and attracted over 35,000 visitors in the first week.[2] An early exhibit of the Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, a Japanese girl, can be seen in the window of the east elevation.


  1. ^ Charity Commission. Baltic flour mills visual arts trust, registered charity no. 1076251.
  2. ^ a b Baltic Website Archived 2007-10-16 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Baltic's new director unveils a vision of skateboards, football and art in the lavatories
  4. ^ Spank the Monkey-BALTIC Archived May 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Baltic Boss Quits for Ukraine Job
  6. ^ "Boss defends gallery 'porn probe'". BBC News. 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2008-05-28. Mr Wrigglesworth said: "We had an exhibition of 139 photographs and the management of Baltic thought this particular one was possibly beyond the pale. So the management took advice from the police as to whether it should be put on display or not. That led to a police investigation, which is ongoing."
  7. ^ "Sir Elton owns 'porn probe' photo". BBC News. 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  8. ^ "Baltic porn probe photos removed". BBC News. 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
  9. ^ "Turner Prize to leave London for BALTIC". 2010-09-17. Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  10. ^ "Scottish sculptor's 'indoor park' scoops Turner Prize". Ben Hoyle. The Times. December 7, 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  11. ^ a b Facts about the Baltic Flour Mills
  12. ^
  13. ^ Baltic Blunders - the New Statesman

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 54°58′09″N 1°35′52″W / 54.96917°N 1.59778°W / 54.96917; -1.59778