TRANSFORMATIVE work has started on a house left to the Cooper Gallery in its last resident’s will, as part of the gallery’s continuing expansion.

The small cottage on the rear entrance of the gallery, on Eastgate, was left to the gallery by Margarette Dawson when she died aged 93 several years ago.

The gallery held off on developing the property until October, when – amid rapidly growing visitor numbers – it was awarded £125,000 by the Arts Council to transform the cottage into additional gallery space, an artists’ studio, and an extension to the cafe which currently backs onto the gallery’s rear garden and courtyard area.

Coun Robert Frost, cabinet support spokesman for regeneration and culture, said: “We were delighted, when back in October, Barnsley Museums were successful in receiving £125,000 from the Arts Council Fund – Capital: Small Grants programme.

“This has provided essential funds to transform an empty cottage at the rear of the Cooper Gallery into an artist studio space, with exhibition areas and a café.

“The investment will also support further landscaping in the gallery garden, and the commissioning of a new digital artwork.

“The new studio space will help support emerging local artists by providing a creative space for them to develop their skills and expand their portfolio as well as providing much needed additional space for the onsite café.

“Works are underway and due to be complete in early November when the gallery looks forward to welcoming visitors to explore the new area.”

The Arts Council funding is designed to open organisations up to new and broader audiences, and will help the Cooper Gallery to develop digital art forms throughout the cottage and courtyard to encourage the development and exhibition of new and innovative content.

The redeveloped cottage will join the £630,000 gallery extension completed almost three years ago.

The work is expected to be completed in November, with the rear entrance of the gallery remaining inaccessible throughout this time.