Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

This article refers to BALTIC, the arts centre in the United Kingdom. For other uses, see Baltic (disambiguation).
The Baltic Centre
A View of the Baltic Arts Centre

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (BALTIC) is an international centre for contemporary art located on the south bank of the River Tyne alongside the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, in North East England, United Kingdom. It presents a constantly changing programme of exhibitions and events. It opened in 2002 in a converted flour mill. The Director is Sarah Munro who joined Baltic in November 2015. Mrs Munro is the first woman to hold the position of Director in the history of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. 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 witnessed the first one million visitors through the doors. 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, who approached the challenge with plans 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 Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev, Ukraine.[5] Since 2008, the director has been Godfrey Worsdale, founding director of the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

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]

In 2011, BALTIC was the venue for the Turner Prize, this was the first time the event has 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 Baltic Flour Mill was built by the Rank Hovis company 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. As of October 2011, the Spillers mill just downstream from the Baltic on the north bank of the river is in the process of being demolished. 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 housing estate.

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.[12] 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.[2]


  1. Charity Commission. BALTIC FLOUR MILLS VISUAL ARTS TRUST, registered charity no. 1076251.
  2. 1 2 Baltic Website
  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. A spokesman for the singer said the photograph had been exhibited around the world without objections. The statement added: 'Elton John is known as one of the world's foremost collectors of photographic art and has several thousand photographs in his collection, including works by Man Ray, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Diane Arbus and Ansel Adams.'
  8. "Baltic porn probe photos removed". BBC News. 2007-10-01. Retrieved 2008-05-28. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, at the request of the Sir Elton John Photography Collection, has closed the exhibition. After the removal of one image from the series it was no longer possible for Baltic to exhibit the collection of works as the artist intended. Therefore Baltic is sympathetic to Sir Elton John's request and supportive of the decision.
  9. "Turner Prize to leave London for BALTIC". 2010-09-17. Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-17. The Turner Prize will not be held at a Tate venue for the first time in 25 years in 2011 when it heads to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
  10. "Scottish sculptor's 'indoor park' scoops Turner Prize". Ben Hoyle. The Times. December 7, 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  11. 1 2 Facts about the Baltic Flour Mills
  12. Baltic Blunders - the New Statesman

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

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