The notion of BALTIC began in 1991 when Northern Arts (now Arts Council England North East) announced its ambition to achieve ‘major new capital facilities for the Contemporary Visual Arts in Central Tyneside’.
Construction began in 1998: only the south and north facades of the original 1950s building were retained. A new structure consisting of six main floors and three mezzanines was secured between the facades which contained 3000sqm of arts space (four galleries and a flexible performance space), artists' studios, cinema/lecture space, shop, a library and archive for the study of contemporary art and the Rooftop Restaurant on Level 6.
An additional two-storey structure: The Riverside Building, was constructed to the west of the main building, providing the main entrance into BALTIC, which looks out across Baltic Square and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art opened on Saturday 13 July 2002. The inaugural exhibition, B.OPEN, featured work by Chris Burden, Carsten Holler, Julian Opie, Jaume Plensa and Jane & Louise Wilson, and attracted over 35,000 visitors in the first week. Since then BALTIC has exhibited 186 exhibitions, worked with 358 artists and presented artists from 52 countries around the world.
In April 2013, BALTIC welcomed its 5 million visitor.
The founding director, Sune Nordgren was appointed in 1996 and after close to 6 years, left to take up a new post as founding Director of the National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway. He was briefly succeeded by Stephen Snoddy, who went on to become Director of The New Art Gallery, Walsall and from 2005 Peter Doroshenko, who went on to accept the role of Director with the prestigious PinchukArtCentre in Ukraine.
BALTIC was delighted to welcome Director Godfrey Worsdale as Director of BALTIC who took up his new position in November 2008. Following an immensely successful time as Founding Director of mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Godfrey Worsdale joins BALTIC with over 15 years of experience in gallery management and programming.
BALTIC Archive contains a wealth of information about past, present and future BALTIC projects including press cuttings, publicity and images. Pre-booking is required for access to Archive.