Courtauld Gallery reopens after three-year transformation - Museums Association

Courtauld Gallery reopens after three-year transformation

Redevelopment includes new exhibition spaces and a full redisplay of the collections
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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The Blavatnik Fine Rooms display works from the renaissance to the 18th century, including the newly conserved Trinity with Saints by Botticelli (centre)
The Blavatnik Fine Rooms display works from the renaissance to the 18th century, including the newly conserved Trinity with Saints by Botticelli (centre) © David Levene

The Courtauld Gallery in London welcomes visitors back today after a three-year modernisation and refurbishment project.

Along with refreshing the gallery interiors, the Courtauld has completely reinterpreted and redisplayed its collection of fine art, which ranges from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. New spaces have also been created for temporary exhibitions.

Designed by architects Witherford Watson Mann, with gallery design by Nissen Richards Studio, the £57m redevelopment aims to open up the 18th-century building and make it more accessible to audiences. Funded was provided by sponsors including the conglomerate LVMH, American-British billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

The Blavatnik Fine Rooms on the second-floor feature new displays of works from the renaissance to the 18th century, including Botticelli’s large-scale Trinity with Saints, which has undergone a three-year conservation.

The LVMH Great Room Photo © David Levene

The Courtauld’s collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces, including Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882) and Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889), are presented in the restored LVMH Great Room, London’s oldest purpose-built exhibition space.

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A gallery has been created on the first floor to present the Courtauld’s collection of paintings and decorative arts from the medieval and early renaissance periods, including examples of Islamic metalwork, alongside works from Italy and northern Europe.

The new Bloomsbury Room at the Courtauld Photo © Hufton+Crow

For the first time, the gallery’s collection of works by the Bloomsbury Group have been given their own dedicated space, showcasing the group’s furniture, ceramic and textile designs alongside paintings and drawings by Bloomsbury artists such as Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.

Two new galleries on the top floor will provide a home for the Courtauld’s programme of temporary exhibitions.

Another new highlight is a large-scale painting, Unmoored from her reflection, by contemporary artist Cecily Brown, which was specially commissioned for the curved wall at the top of the Courtauld’s historical staircase.

Cecily Brown, Unmoored from her reflection Photo © David Levene

The gallery, part of the Courtauld Institute of Art, also features new and refurbished facilities for students on its courses. A new room, the Project Space, will display smaller temporary projects that give visitors insights into the institute’s collection, conservation and research programmes. New collection study spaces have been added, and the teaching and research facilities in the institute’s department of conservation have also been refurbished.

Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing director of the Courtauld, said: “We are so excited to welcome visitors back into The Courtauld Gallery after being closed for over three years. The transformation has been incredible, and the masterpieces in our collection now shine brighter than ever before.

“The Courtauld was founded in 1932 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to engage with art. With improved visitor facilities and greater accessibility, we’re also looking forward to welcoming people who might not have visited the Courtauld before – as well as being once again able to use the gallery to teach our wonderful art history, curation and conservation students.”

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