Leicester has been in the news recently, and for good reason. Despite the 5,000–1 odds, Leicester City went on to win the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history on Monday following a remarkable – and unstoppable – rise to the top. It’s a big story for a little club – and an even bigger one for Leicester itself. ‘People will want to know about the city where this amazing team come from,’ said Leicester’s mayor Sir Peter Soulsby. So what else is going on in the home of the famous Foxes? Culturally, there’s a lot to see – here’s our round-up of what not to miss.
The University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre – founded by Leicester native Richard Attenborough – opened a major new £1.5m gallery earlier this year. Dedicated to the presentation of British and International art, the gallery doubled the size of the Centre’s previous exhibition space, making it the largest contemporary art gallery in both Leicester and the wider East Midlands region. The gallery opened with a solo exhibition by Lucy and Jorge Orta, whose interdisciplinary work addresses social, economic, and environmental questions. Four new exhibitions will open on 6 May, including the Small Print International – a touring exhibition of contemporary prints by local and international printmakers.
Established in 1849 and situated in the historic New Walk area of the city, this is Leicester’s oldest museum. The varied collection spans the natural and cultural world and includes galleries dedicated to ancient Egypt, dinosaurs, and World Arts. The Victorian Art Gallery, which spans the 16th to the 19th century, and features works by J.M.W. Turner and Lord Leighton, is worth seeking out, as is the impressive display of Picasso ceramics. Drawn from the collection of Lord and Lady Attenborough, it numbers some 150 works by the Spanish master – all of which were produced at the Madoura pottery factory in Vallauris. From 4 June until September, the temporary exhibition ‘Fearless Foxes’ will chart Leicester City’s dramatic season.
Leicester’s impressive German Expressionist holdings are drawn from works in the collection of Leicester City Arts and Museum services. It is the largest such collection in the UK, and can be seen in full in a dedicated gallery at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery. Founded in Leicester during the Second World War – initially with works acquired from the exhibition ‘Mid-European Art’, which took place at the museum in 1944 – the collection now has over 450 works. Artists represented include Kandinsky, Marc, and Kirchner. A database of works can be found here.
Curve Theatre Leicester, Rafael Vinoly’s first completed building in the UK and winner of the 2009 RIBA regional award, is a cutting-edge performance space that allows visitors to see the inner workings of the theatre. The £61 million project houses an 800-seat auditorium alongside a 400-seat studio. Although once condemned as an ‘expensive disaster’ (the project went a whopping £35m over budget), the Curve has emerged as one of the top theatres in the country.
Here you can find out more about Leicester’s past; the museum traces the history of the region from prehistoric times to the medieval period and houses a remarkable collection of Roman archaeological artefacts. Nearby, within the museum grounds, sits the Jewry Wall, a length of Roman bath-house wall over 9m high – the largest Roman masonry structure in the UK and one of Leicester’s most famous landmarks.
No list about Leicester would be complete without reference to Richard III. The king was reinterred at a service at Leicester Cathedral last year following the archaeological discovery of his bones under a car park in 2012. The story of Richard’s life and death is now told at this dedicated visitor centre, which opened in a former school building last summer. It has been said that the long dead King of England inspired the Foxes to victory – his remains are buried a mere mile from the King Power Stadium. More recently, the Guardian imagined the King paying tribute to the triumph of Leicester’s footballers…