The Pier Arts Centre in Orkney was established in 1979 to provide a home for an important collection of British fine art donated to ‘be held in trust for Orkney’ by the author, peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner (1904 – 2005). Alongside the permanent collection the Centre curates a year round programme of changing exhibitions and events for the education and enjoyment of the general public. There is also a bookshop and accessible reference library.
The Centre re-opened in July 2007 following a two year, £4.5 million Lottery funded redevelopment of its buildings and facilities and is housed in a complex of buildings that sit on one of the many piers that characterise the historic town of Stromness.
The original listed buildings and pier, that once housed the office and stores of the Hudson’s Bay Company, have been sympathetically extended by Reiach & Hall Architects who have created a stunning new building at the harbours’ edge. The quality of Reiach and Hall’s work for the Centre was recognised with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland’s Andrew Doolan Award for the Best building in Scotland 2007.
The Pier Arts Centre acts as a focal point for the local artistic community and its outward looking and open attitude helps keep the Centre on the cultural ‘radar’ for many in the UK and beyond.