The Dairy Art Centre

Riccardo Vecchio

Frank Cohen provides cultural nourishment at his massive London arts space.

Bloomsbury’s history marks it as one of the artiest of central London’s neighborhoods, home to Virginia Woolf, the Pre-Raphaelites and, of course, the British Museum. It’s a fitting spot, then, for the capital’s splashiest new arts venue: the Dairy. Housed in a 12,500-square-foot onetime milk depot, this raw industrial space is an experimental venue aimed at promoting international art of various disciplines to a wider audience.

Storied British collector Frank Cohen, founder of a chain of DIY stores in northern England, is the brains and the bank behind it, alongside longtime friend Nicolai Frahm. Cohen likens the site to a Kunsthalle, an arts center with both curated shows and project spaces. Several annual exhibitions in the main hall will single out contemporary artists, in Cohen’s words, “who have been left by the wayside, who never made it into the first division but should have.” First up: installationist John Armleder.

The dairy’s old milk bar will open as a café, while there will also be a bookstore on-site. The erstwhile milk fridges, meanwhile, have been repurposed as project spaces, where any artist—performance, video, visual—can apply for permission to stage a show.

Having grown up a working-class Briton without access to art, Cohen is determined to broaden galleries’ reach. “I want people to feel they can come together—curators, collectors, the public—and experience, discuss or learn about art,” he says. “This is art for everyone.” The Dairy Art Centre is at 7a Wakefield St.; dairyartcentre.org.uk.