transformation blog

15 June 2011
New Benches Have Arrived

Kerstin Glasow

The new benches, designed by furniture maker Matthew Burt, have arrived and look wonderful in the new rooms!

13 June 2011
New Gallery Signage Installed

Kerstin Glasow

Over the past few days we have been installing the new internal Gallery signage which directs visitors to the different floors and parts of the collection as well as to the visitor service areas, including the cafe and shop. I hope you will find it very easy now to navigate your way around the building.

8 June 2011
Cezanne Room open to the Public

Kerstin Glasow

The final of the first floor rooms is now open to the public: room 5 showcases our world-famous Cézanne collection, the most important in Britain. You can now see the artist's celebrated masterpieces, including Card Players and Montagne Sainte-Victoire in one room.

7 June 2011
Impressionist lAndscapes on Display

Kerstin Glasow

Now that the majority of our celebrated Cézanne paintings have been moved back to the first floor, room 8 on the second floor showcases a wonderful range of Impressionist landscapes, including paintings by Pissarro, Corot, Sisley, Renoir and Cézanne.

6 June 2011
Positive Reactions to New First Floor Rooms

Kerstin Glasow

This is the third day after unveiling the new presentation of our collection and so far we have had extremely positive feedback from our visitors. Our visitor services team tell me that many people have been very complimentary and are thrilled by the brighter appearance of the rooms and the new interpretation of the collection.

4 June 2011
First Floor Rooms unveiled

Kerstin Glasow

The Fine Rooms on the first floor are open again! The only exception is room 5 which will host our world-famous Cézanne paintings: it will be unveiled on Wednesday.

My snapshots hopefully give you a good idea of the improvements: the lighting is so much better and also brings out the paintings on the ceilings; overall the look and feel of the rooms is much brighter and friendlier. Not only have we refurbished the rooms but we have also changed the hang, written new labels and introduced new panels which give indepth information about highlight paintings and encourage a closer look.

The only improvements still to come are the new benches, which we expect next week, and the new glass cases for the Baroque room.

3 June 2011
Finishing Touches

Kerstin Glasow

The whole team worked tirelessly today to ensure that the first floor looks spectacular when we open it to the public again tomorrow morning. Curators, conservators, our registrar, electricians, the facilities team and many helpers were re-adjusting paintings, hanging labels, cleaning cases, installing lights... We hope you will enjoy the results of all their hard work!

2 June 2011
Installing the new MaiolicA Display

Kerstin Glasow

Today we installed a new display of our 15th century maiolica in room 2. Many of them haven't been on view for quite a while. Only two more days to go until you can see the stunning new rooms!

1 June 2011
Torch Bearers ARe Back in the Building

Kerstin Glasow

The two torch bearers which usually greet visitors as they reach the first floor landing have been brought back to The Courtauld Gallery. The last few months they were stored off-site to keep them safe while heavy loads were carried up and down our staircase.

31 May 2011
Dusting Our 15th century Wedding Chests

Kerstin Glasow

Before installing our Florentine wedding chest, Gallery Conservator Graeme Barraclough cleaned them with his special equipment. The chests can be seen alongside other 15th and 16th century art works, including altar pieces such as Botticelli's Trinity, ceramics and iconic paintings such as Cranach's Adam and Eve, in our new Renaissance room.

30 May 2011
18th Century Europe Room Almost Done

Kerstin Glasow

Room 4 with its 18th century portraits is looking truly stunning. Just a few more finishing touches and we are done!

27 May 2011
Queen Charlotte says Good-bye

Kerstin Glasow

William Beechey's portrait of Queen Charlotte was moved into the picture store today. This will allow us to take out some other important 18th century paintings which haven't been on display for a while.

26 May 2011
RUbens and Baroque Room Finished

Kerstin Glasow

What an exciting day! We managed to hang the majority of paintings in room 3 which will showcase masterpieces by Rubens and his contemporaries. The paintings are looking fabulous against the new wall colour.

25 May 2011
Iconic Rubens Painting Hanging once again

Kerstin Glasow

The refurbishment project is quickly progressing from one room to the next. This morning Rubens' Family of Jan Brueghel the Elder was carefully placed back among other 17th century masterpieces. Mark 4 June in your calendar to see this painting and the entire rehang in bright new rooms!

23 May 2011
Two VEnus Sculptures Move Out

Kerstin Glasow

These two beauties had to temporarily leave the first floor Gallery rooms today. The casts of two famous classical sculptures - known as the Medici Venus and the Venus Pudica - now stand in the foyer of The Courtauld Institute of Art and greet our students as they enter the building.

21 May 2011
Plinths Ready for Art Works

Kerstin Glasow

Today we finished painting the plinths for our new Renaissance room. Later this week they will hold our famous Renaissance wedding chests as well as maiolica and other decorative arts.

16 May 2011
Room 5 is as Good as new

Kerstin Glasow

Now that the floors have been sanded and sealed and the walls painted we can start installing our 18th century masterpieces in room 5. The cases you can see in the picture will be used for our silver display.

11 May 2011
Somerset House FaÇade is Shining Again

Kerstin Glasow

The exterior of Somerset House is fully visible again - and it looks so bright and refreshed! Months of intensive cleaning and repairing the stone works have really made a difference!

9 May 2011
Decorating the Foyer

Kerstin Glasow

We have now prepared the walls of the foyer, filling in cracks, so the undercoat can be applied tonight before the final paint finish.

5 May 2011
Scaffolding Coming Down

Kerstin Glasow

Ahead of schedule we are currently taking down the scaffolding and hoarding behind which the cleaning of the facade of Somerset House has taken place over the past weeks. As you can see from this picture: The front that's emerging from the scaffolding looks amazingly bright and as good as new!

3 May 2011
New Colours for Room 7

Kerstin Glasow

Room 7 - previously the gallery in which displayed our 18th century portraits and the Courtauld silver collection - is about to be painted. We shouldn't run out of paint anytime soon: We have many buckets of paint as you can see here. From 4 June we will display our unique Florentine wedding chests as well as Renaissance altarpieces and paintings in this room.

28 April 2011
Shiny Floors

Kerstin Glasow

The floors of rooms 5 to 7 have just been sanded and we have started to seal part of the floors. Before we can continue we have to wait for the varnish to dry.

26 April 2011
New Plinth for Degas Sculptures

Kerstin Glasow

Today we decided on the format of the new plinth that we are about to comission for our Degas scultpures. From 4 June these will be displayed with other Impressionist masterpieces in the big room facing the courtyard of Somerset House. Here you can see Courtauld Gallery Conservator Graeme Barraclough arranging the sculptures so we can take the measurements for the new plinth.

21 April 2011
CENTAURS Take Shelter

Kerstin Glasow

Another exciting day at The Courtauld: the centaurs which normally welcome visitors entering the Gallery were moved into the Institute foyer. They have to take refuge while we improve the lighting and paint the walls in the Gallery foyer. These works will be carried out at night so your visit won't be affected.

The centaurs belong to a group of plaster casts that were owned by the Royal Academy of Arts when it was based in the rooms now occupied by The Courtauld Gallery.

19 April 2011
Rooms 2 and 3 Are Open again

Kerstin Glasow

Since this morning rooms 2 and 3 are open to the public again. Although there are many things we will still be changing until 4 June you can already check out the new wall colours and the refurbished wooden floors.

18 April 2011
Impressionist Paintings back in Rooms 2 and 3

Kerstin Glasow

Today rooms 2 and 3 went from bare walls to fully outfitted with favourite Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings from our collection. Our curators kept a careful watch over the re-hang and then enjoyed basking in the glow of the newly refurbished room. Here you can see one of our most popular masterpieces being installed.

17 April 2011
Scaffolding with a view

Kerstin Glasow

I climbed up the scaffolding today and the views were amazing!

15 April 2011

Kerstin Glasow

The new label holders are ordered and will arrive in time for the re-opening of the first floor (so we were promised!). Here you can see Barnaby Wright, our Daniel Katz Curator of 20th Century Art, holding up the new holder in order to see what it will look like on the Gallery walls.

15 April 2011

Kerstin Glasow

Final touches are being made to room 2 today. On Monday we will install the paintings and from Tuesday you can get a first glimpse of what the refurbished first floor will look like come 4 June.

14 April 2011
Kerstin Glasow

This morning our chandeliers in room 3  were re-installed. They have been rewired and refurbished and now give more light than previously.

13 April 2011
Kerstin Glasow

Mock ups of our new Gallery benches were placed in the first floor rooms this morning. The new benches invite visitors to sit down for a while and take the time to enjoy the art  works. I really like the contemporary and elegant design which works very well in the Gallery spaces. Here you can see Stephanie Buck, our Curator of Drawings, trying out the model of the new bench.

12 April 2011
Kerstin Glasow

Today we looked at 25 different options for the layout of the new labels. These will present the most important information about each art work and aimt to encourage our visitors to look closely at our paintings and sculptures.

8 April 2011
Kerstin Glasow

This morning we installed panels outside Somerse House that explain about the refurbishment project and advertise our current exhibition Life, Legend, Landscape: Victorian Drawings and Watercolours as well as our world-famous collection. They definitely make the hoarding look very colourful!

4 April 2011
Kerstin Glasow

It is not just the first floor rooms that are being transformed: a brand new frame allows a 15th century painting to come out of hiding. The diptych depicting Virgin and Child and a donor was painted by the Master of Bruges around 1490. Its previous frame did not match the paintings splendour at all; therefore it hasn't been on display for many years. We decided to have a new frame made which is reminiscent of the lost original frame. This new frame acknowledges the paintings original use as a private devotional piece which was not displayed but folded away and stored to be brought out for private worship. In a few months time the diptych can be admired in room 1 of The Courtauld Gallery.

1 April 2011
FreSh Colours
Kerstin Glasow

The painters are hard at work today, painting the walls, dado rails and skirting boards in room 2. The fresh colours really make a difference to the overall effect of this ornate room.

31 March 2011
Kerstin Glasow

Now that our Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces have been moved, rooms 2, 3 and 4 are absolutely empty! It is very strange walking through these galleries which look very different now that the floors have been sanded. To me they already appear much larger and definitely brighter. Tomorrow morning we will start painting!

26 March 2011
Kerstin Glasow

Our most popular Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings have been relocated. Masterpieces such as Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and Renoir's La Loge are now on view in the rooms which were previously occupied by our Rubens and Old Masters collections. Once the refurbishment of the first floor is complete our Manets, Monets and Van Goghs will move to their final locations.

25 March 2011
Kerstin Glasow

Today Ernst Vegelin (left), Head of The Courtauld Gallery, and the curators looked at more options for the colours in our Old Masters rooms. It takes a long time to find a colour that works with every painting on display. Of course we also have to make sure that the colour scheme goes with our beautiful 18th century rooms.

22 March 2011
The Hoarding Outside Somerset House is Up
Kerstin Glasow

Somerset House is looking very different today as our façade is concealed behind scaffolding and hoardings. Until the end of May we will be working hard on cleaning the stonework which over the past decades has turned very dark. Come the start of June the façade of Somerset House will gleam once again!

21 March 2011
The Wall Colours for the First Floor Rooms are Finalised
Kerstin Glasow

After many hours of deliberation and discussion, the Gallery team have finally reached a conclusion on the wall colours for the majority of rooms. Our facilities team painted many colour panels which were then held up against each painting. We hope you will be very pleased with the final choice come 4 June.


18 March 2011
Cezanne Masterpieces installed in Room 8
Kerstin Glasow

The Courtauld Gallery holds the most important collection of works by Paul Cézanne in Britain. Today we moved his iconic paintings, including Montagne Sainte-Victoire, from the first floor to the newly refurbished room 8 on the second floor. At the end of the transformation project they will be moved downstairs to their final "home" again.

17 March 2011
Room 8 is as Good as  New!
Kerstin Glasow

The floors of room 8 have been sanded and are now looking as fresh and clean as a new pin! It’s a total transformation, and we hope that it will do justice to the wonderful paintings which we will be installing tomorrow!

15 March 2011
The First Paintings Have Been Moved
Kerstin Glasow

This morning some of the paintings that used to hang on the first floor have been carefully moved and are now safely tucked away within the depths of our painting store. Once the rooms are ready, paintings such as Gainsborough’s Portrait of Charles Tudway MP will look even better in the newly refurbished spaces.

14 March 2011
Our Refurbishment Project Has started!
Kerstin Glasow

Today we started the exciting refurbishment project of our first floor rooms. Over the next 10 weeks we will be sanding floors, painting walls, installing new lights and re-hanging our world-famous Old Masters, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. This transformation will enable us to showcase our world-famous collection to its full potential, enlivening interpretation and inviting you on a new journey of discovery around The Courtauld's collection.