Just like its namesake, Turner Contemporary – which opened in April 2011 following a £17 million development – bridges the gap between traditional and contemporary art.
JMW Turner loved Margate; he first visited aged 11 when his parents sent him to school in Love Lane. After returning to sketch the town aged 21, he became a regular visitor. More than 100 of Turner’s works were inspired by the East Kent coast. It was the unique quality of light in this part of Kent that drew Turner back – he remarked to the influential art critic John Ruskin that 'the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe'.
Turner’s relationship with his landlady in Margate, Mrs Booth, was clearly special to him – he even called himself ‘Mr Booth’ after the death of her husband. Mrs Booth’s seafront guest house was originally situated on the same site where the gallery has been built.
Turner Contemporary was nominated for the Art Fund Prize 2012.
In Spring 2018, the gallery ran a successful Art Happens to bring Paula the polar bear to Margate. They raised over £15,000 to take their exhibition, Animals & Us, out of the gallery and onto the beach to get everyone talking about climate change.
Turner Contemporary has no permanent collection of its own. The programme of temporary exhibitions focuses on art from 1750 to the present that has a dialogue with Turner's work and legacy.