300 years ago Bluecoat was built, making it Liverpool's oldest city centre building. The Latin inscription over its entrance is a reminder of its origins as a charity school: 'Dedicated to the Promotion of Christian Charity and to the Instruction of Destitute Children in the Principles of the Anglican Church in the Year of Salvation 1717'.


22nd April 1912

Sandon Studios Society exhibition of Modern Art launches on this day, enhancing the groups reputation for the radical within the Liverpool art scene.


5th March 1972

British sculptor William Turnbull displays his geometric tubular metal scupture in Bluecoat's front courtyard as part of the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation's City Sculpture Project taking place in cities across the UK.


2nd May 1908

Bluecoat's first exhibition of modern art opened on this day in 1908. Organised by the artists group based in the building, the Sandon Studios Society, it featured a painting, 'Etretat', by French Impressionist Claude Monet, 22 works by Augustus John and Sandon members.


9th June 1997

1997 - It was 30 years ago today - Sgt Pepper exhibition marked the release of this iconic album with a new tableau of figures from the intervening years of world news and popular culture.



The secluded garden by Bluecoat's Sandon Room was reputedly once made into an impromptu swimming pool used by artists in the building.


April 2013

Five Blue Room artists (Eddie Rauer, Michelle Edwards, Veronica Watson, Anna Patterson and Laura Aquilina) traveled to Ireland to collaborate with Dublin-based inclusive theatre group Doors to Elsewhere on an immersive event. 'The Dinner Party: Not Just a Dublin Coddle' was a participatory arts dinner party involving video, performance, and visual arts.


July 1989

In the 80s/90s Bluecoat hosted several shows by Black British artists curated by Eddie Chambers including 'Black Art: Plotting the Course'.


14th May 1984

John Carson visited US towns immortalised in song, bringing his singing performance about them, American Medley, to Bluecoat.


8th April 2008

Bluecoat launched Blue Room on this day in 2008, a weekly arts programme for adults with learning disabilities with 33 members


May 1995

Reflecting Liverpool's economic decline and betrayal, Nina Edge's1995 performance Sold Down the River went from Bluecoat to Albert Dock.


February 1945

Bluecoat hosted British Drawings from the Tate Gallery, one of many exhibitions staged at the venue during and after the war when The Walker Art Gallery was taken over by the Ministry of Food.


July 2011

Bluecoat's exhibition 'Honky Tonk' drew parallels between Texas & Liverpool, the Scouse love of country music & honky tonk bars.


18th July 2015

RESOURCE' group exhibition launches. Laurence Payot's works Symbiosis: Social Experiments with Living Scuptures was created in collaboration with Blue Room who tested out prototypes for wearable sculptures and feature in video pieces.


June 1983

1983 exhibition Past Imperfect reflected Marc Camille Chaimowicz's elegant practice embracing installation, applied arts, performance and sculpture.


12th March 1911

An exhibition of works by the Post-Impressionists, including Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin, opens.Liverpool artists from the Sandon Studios Society showed alongside their Continetnal counterparts whose work had shocked London earlier in an exhibition organised by British artist and writer Roger Fry.


27th June 1796

Nicholas Ashton succeeds Bryan Blundell's son Jonathan Blundell as school treasurer markign a break from the Blundell family.


February 1968

Artists Arthur Dooley and Brian Burgess hung their art on Bluecoat railings protesting at local artists being 'priced out' of showing in the gallery. For many years after, displays by local artists on the railings were a feature of the building on a Saturday.


3rd April 1821

John Harrocks presents the Willis Organ to the school.This was removed to the new site in Wavertree when the school moved out of the building in the early 1900s.


27th July 1987

Holly Warburton's installation at the Anglican Cathedral's Oratory was Bluecoat's contribution to nationwide TSWA 3D 1987 public art project.


14th February

Liverpool artist, poet and performer, Adrian Henri exhibited and read poetry many times at Bluecoat.His first exhibiton was in 1958. In 2014 Bluecoat's print studio produced a print featuring a pink Henri heart.


18th June 1991

Nearby Chavasse Park was occupied by a Bluecoat commission by Those Environmental Artists (TEA), responding to the city centre in transition.


Early 1913

1913 the Women's Citizens Association, the oldest women's organisation in Liverpool or any other UK city, held its meetings at Bluecoat.Its president was social reformer Eleanor Rathbone.


6th May 2004

Aleks Danko's Biennial​ ​performance 'Rolling Home​​' involved rolling large ​'soft' blue houses ​into Bluecoat​'s courtyard.


23rd May

Known as the 'City of Liverpool Art Gallery', Bluecoat was used during and after the War to host many exhibitions while the Walker Art Gallery was closed having been requisitioed by the Ministry of Food.


15th March 2008

Bluecoat building reopens after 3 years of capital development with award winning new extension designed by Rotterdam architects, Biq.


1st May 1989

May Day's revolutionary spirit was evoked by Russian avant-garde artists who took over Bluecoat in 1989 and Pop Mechanica played St George's Hall


12th May 1988

Liverpool performers Visual Stress' 'Death by Free Enterprise' cleansed Bluecoat of its slavery history the week Tate opened.


June 1992

Three Bluecoat exhibitions titled 'A Pool of Signs' showed engagement with postmodernism from a distinctly Liverpool perspective.



The popular Bluecoat garden was once the playground for girls at the school. The boys' playground was behind an extension to the school that continued up School Lane on the site of the present Friends Meeting House.


23rd February

Russian composer Igor Stravinsky marked the death of Sir Edward Elgar on this day in 1934, asking fellow diners at the Sandon to pay tribute to 'England's greatest composer' (tickets for the lunch were three shillings).


10th June 2002

Bill Drummond performed 'How to be an Artist', where he cuts a Richard Long photo into 20,000 pieces and sells them individually.


February 1994

Artist Janet Hodgson projects the repeated school punishment lines "I must learn to know my place" onto the Bluecoat building, a reference to the building's oiginal finction as a school.


15th May 2002

Amanda Coogan's 'Beethoven the Headbangers' opened the 2002 Biennial with furious headbanging to Beethoven in Bluecoat's courtyard.


February 1989

The first Video Positive biennial festival of video art in the UK takes place in Liverpool, including Bluecoat where its organisers, Moviola, were based. After 14 years they moved to a new building as FACT, whose current Director, Mike Stubbs, exhibited an installation at Bluecoat involving a desert island, stuffed seal, glitterball and black condoms suspended from the ceiling filled with water.


13th June 1987

Bluecoat staged its first exhibition exchange with Liverpool's German twin city of Cologne. An exhibit by Reinhard Henning included a perspex heart full of live maggots, which attracted the attention of the RSPCA. Other works included a bucket of singing carrots and a crucifix festooned with coat hooks.


May 2009

Bluecoat commissioned 'Twins' by ​Angie Hiesl​ involving identical twins was staged at what is now Camp and Furnace ​in 2009.


15th June 1990

Sophie Horton's concrete structures in exhibition 'New Sculpture' were a feminist critique of phallic brutalist architecture.


4th Aug 2015

Anne Harild, the recipient of the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award (ARMA) launched the commission, We Approach. The colonnade-like structure inspired by the architecture of the building was produced in collaboration with members Blue Room and Out of the Blue during Anne's residency at Bluecoat.



In 1907 the Sandon Studios Society, an independent art school, moved into the vacant Blue Coat school building, establishing an arts presence that continues today. Their exhibitions and events led to Bluecoat becoming the UK's first arts centre.


8th July

RESOURCE group exhibition launches on this day in 2015. Laurence Payot's works Symbiosis: Social Experiments with Living Scuptures was created in collaboration with Blue Room who tested out prototypes for wearable sculptures and feature in video pieces.


5th May 1995

The Cholmondeleys and the Featherstonehaughs ​collaborated on a performance on Church ​S​t ​for Bluecoat's Summer in the City '95.


4th April 1972

Captain Beefheart, US rock legend's first ever exhibition of paintings opens at Bluecoat on this day in 1972. Claiming his "forbears walked around with Rembrandt", he described his painting technique as "just exercising my arm, like an ass swishing its tail".


22nd February

In this month in 1949 Liverpool's long running trad band, the Merseysippi Jazz Band, was formed. An early broadcast on the BBC was recorded at Bluecoat. Many UK and international jazz musicians have since performed at the venue. In 1993 an exhibition by Mal Dean included many jazz drawings.


15th April 1989

On this day in 1989 Liverpool artist Geoff Molyneux creates a maze of cardboard boxes in the Bluecoat front courtyard as part of the exhibition New Art Merseyside.


July 1990

Art in Chaos' was a richly layered solo exhibition at Bluecoat by John Hyatt, singer of John Peel post punk favourites The Three Johns.



The acclaimed silversmith Stanley Hill held a studio at Bluecoat for many years, exhibiting over 2800 works at the Bluecoat Display Centre.


21st July 2008

Leading deaf and disability arts organisation DaDaFest moved into Bluecoat, becoming part of its creative community. The building has hosted many DaDaFest events including its biennial festival.


Early 1900s

Before the First World War, the Sandon Studios Society, the artists group at the heart of Bluecoat's cultural life, welcomed many visitors. Trade Union leader Tom Mann, who led the 1911 Liverpool General Transport Strike, reputedly stood on a chair in the Dining Room to sing socialist anthem 'The Red Flag'.


Early 1700s

Bluecoat has Liverpool's oldest Liver Birds in its courtyard: on the gates and above two doors. The largest on the main entrance was constructed after the war. Can you spot two other hidden here?



WilliamMorris was born 24th March, 1834 - Public View artist David Mabb exhibited work made from Morris wallpaper at Bluecoat in 2009.


5th April 1985

The exhibition Black Skin Bluecoat opens.It features four young artists from the emerging Black Art Movement, including Sonia Boyce, Eddie Chambers and Keith Piper, who all continue their relationship with the gallery through exhibition projects, most recently Piper's Unearthing the Banker's Bones in 2016.


July 1995

Science Friction: Art from Cologne' was one of a series of exhibition exchanges Bluecoat organised with Liverpool's German twin city.


15th February 1913

Bluecoat hosted its second Post-Impressionist exhibition.Alongside Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh, British artists were included, including members of Liverpool's Sandon Studios Society, and Duncan Grant, whose decorative work was the subject of a historical exhibition in the gallery over 60 years later in 1980.



Old boy of the school, Richard Ansdell – a Royal Academician – painted The Hunted Slaves(1861), which now hangs in Liverpool's International Slavery Museum.


21st May

In 2008 Geraldine Pilgrim's Trace performance with Blue Coat School pupils evoked the building's previous life as a charity school.



Charles Reilly moved the University of Liverpool School of Architecture to Bluecoat in 1909, the department would remain here for 9 years and continue to exhibit at Bluecoat, renewing the relationship in 2017


5th July

On this day in 1989, John Willett gave a talk about German artist John Heartfield, in an exhibition of his pioneering images at Bluecoat


27th February 1723

The will of the school's first master, accountant William Trenow is dated this day of 1723 and leaves his best suit to Robert, the younger son of Ellen Bibby


13th May 1968

Bluecoat's relationship with pioneering electronic composer PierreHenry started in 1968 when we promoted the first electronic concert in the North West.


16th July 1907

When Lord Leverhulme was awarded the money from associated newspapers he funded the first school of Architecture and Civic Design which relocated to Bluecoat and led to the renaming to Liberty buildings. His original bequest of £1200 was increased with a reissue of shares later to £4000.


4th March 1927

Sandon founding member Fanny Calder presented with a medallion and certificate in recognition of her work leading the campaign to save Bluecoat, which resulted in the setting up of the Bluecoat Society of Arts to run the building and formally constitute the UK's first arts centre.


March 1991

Bluecoat staged a major two part exhibition of Irish art curated by Brian McAvera(use image of Michael Bulfin sculpture being installed in the front courtyard)


23rd April 1843

The pupils of the Blue Coat hospital were involved in St. George's day parades each year, with that of 1843 being commemorated in a popular print.


July 1975

Liverpool Polytechnic sculpture students exhibited in the Bluecoat garden in 1975 was the first of many outdoor art displays there.


7th May 2004

Grace Surman​'s solo performance​ ​'​White​'​ was part of Bluecoat's Liverpool Live programme for the 2004​ Biennial​.