The art scene at Downing College received a welcome boost with the opening of The Heong Gallery of modern and contemporary art in Spring 2016.

The art gallery is part of a larger construction project at Downing College which contains 78 student rooms and eight common rooms. The project has created a new court, called First Court, at the entrance to the College and the Edwardian stables (built in 1902-1903) have been converted into the art gallery that is now open to the public.

The Gallery has been named by Alwyn Heong, an alumnus of Downing College, who is a passionate supporter of the visual arts and a collector. It was opened by Sir Alan Bowness at a ceremony on 5 February 2016.

For the first two years, the exhibitions programme draws out Downing's connections to the art world through its alumni.


Architects Caruso St John have transformed the College’s Edwardian stables into the new gallery space. This follows their 2009 redevelopment of the College’s Dining Hall, which dates from 1818. The College was founded in 1800 and its beautiful neo-classical buildings, designed by William Wilkins, are set in spacious and peaceful gardens in the centre of Cambridge.

Advisory board

Frank Salmon, Downing College alumnus and Art History Department, Cambridge University

John Tancock, Downing College alumnus, former Sotheby’s Vice President, currently Chambers Fine Art in New York

Andrew Nairne, Director of Kettle’s Yard

Tim Knox, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum

George Bailey, Downing College alumnus, former Sotheby’s Commercial Director

Louise Arnell, Trustee of the Pebble Trust

Hamish Dewar, Downing College alumnus, art restorer

Sir David King, Former Master of Downing College, art collector

Gifford Combs, Donor to the project, art collector, Cambridge University alumnus

Martin Kemp, Downing College alumnus and Honorary Fellow, art historian

Chris Bartram, Downing College alumnus, art collector, major donor to the project

Sophie Bowness, art historian and Trustee of the Hepworth Estate

Penny Furniss, media strategist & creative director

Anthony Mould, fine art agent and dealer