A cross made from two pieces of a refugee boat is among the objects being shared this year through a national loans programme.
The Weston Loan Programme, created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and the Art Fund, is a UK-wide grant scheme designed to help smaller museums borrow works from larger ones, including national institutions. The initiative, which began in 2018, will support 18 exhibitions this year, representing funding of £320,000.
The Lampedusa Cross is being loaned by the British Museum to Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. The cross is made from two pieces of a boat that was wrecked off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, in 2013, causing the deaths of 311 Eritrean and Somali refugees. Moved by their plight, the island’s carpenter made a cross for the survivors from the boat’s wreckage. The cross will be displayed this autumn as part of a touring exhibition co-curated with local migrant and refugee groups.
The Galloway Hoard is the richest collection of rare Viking-age objects ever found in the UK. It will be exhibited near the site of its discovery at Kirkcudbright Galleries, from National Museums Scotland.
The National Portrait Gallery’s 16th-century portrait of Richard III will be shown in an exhibition at Yorkshire Museum telling the story of his reign. The portrait is being loaned as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Coming Home project, which sees the gallery lend portraits of individuals to places across the UK with which they are most closely associated.
Towner Eastbourne’s forthcoming exhibition about John Nash will feature Over the Top, a work created by the artist in 1918 that captures his experience of trench warfare. Nash was involved in an attack three months before in France where 68 of 80 men from his battalion were killed within minutes.
“Many of the exhibitions featuring these spectacular loans from national collections have been delayed by the pandemic, and the museums can’t wait to open their doors and welcome visitors to see these national treasures.” said Jenny Waldman, the director of the Art Fund. “At a time when everyone is staying local, it’s incredibly important for people to have access to great art and objects closer to home.”
The Garfield Weston Foundation has committed more than £1.5m to the Weston Loan Programme to date, and 51 museums have now received grants. Visitor numbers have increased on average by 40% at participating museums.