One of the UK’s greatest art collections will have a magnificent new setting when The Courtauld, one of the world’s leading centres for the study of art history, research and conservation, opens its historic central London gallery in late 2021. The reopening follows a major transformation to restore its grandeur and create state-of-the-art facilities, which is supported by £9.5 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and generous donations from foundations, individuals and other supporters.
In addition to the funding made possible by National Lottery players, who raise £30 million every week for good causes in the UK, The Courtauld would particularly like to thank the philanthropists Sir Leonard and Lady Blavatnik, and the Blavatnik Family Foundation, for their lead donation of £10 million to Courtauld Connects. The Blavatnik Fine Rooms will be a suite of six galleries showcasing some of the greatest works in The Courtauld’s collection, ranging from the Renaissance to the 18th Century, and from paintings to decorative arts. The Courtauld’s celebrated collection of works by Peter Paul Rubens will be one of the highlights of these displays. The generous gift received from the Blavatnik Family Foundation enabled their complete restoration, repair and refurbishment.
Masterpieces such as Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and the most significant collection of works by Cézanne in the UK will be presented in The Courtauld Gallery’s spectacular Great Room, one of the largest spaces in Somerset House.
New and transformed galleries will be devoted to the Medieval and Early Renaissance collection, 20th Century art, and the Bloomsbury Group. New exhibition spaces will extend The Courtauld’s celebrated programme of international loan exhibitions alongside smaller temporary projects. Overall, The Courtauld’s collection will be completely redisplayed and newly interpreted.
The Courtauld would also like to acknowledge the generosity of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton who have enabled the transformation of the historic Great Room, home to The Courtauld’s collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces. The first phase of the ambitious Courtauld Connects capital project has also included the complete refurbishment of the teaching facilities within The Courtauld’s world-leading Department of Conservation, including greatly increasing their accessibility, which has been made possible thanks to a significant gift from The Linbury Trust.
Additional major support has been provided by the AKO Foundation (a charitable foundation established by Nicolai and Katja Tangen), Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation, Crankstart, The Garcia Family Foundation (U.K.) Limited, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Dr Martin and Susanne Halusa and the Oak Foundation. The Courtauld is most grateful to these visionary supporters, alongside others who are making this project and its related activities possible.
The Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of The Courtauld, said: “The opening of the Courtauld Gallery will be a cultural highlight of 2021, bringing our unique collection back to public display. It is the first step in a contemporary transformation of The Courtauld, at a time when we are more aware than ever of the contribution of the arts to our wellbeing and the economy. None of this would be possible without the visionary philanthropy of our donors and supporters, to whom we owe a significant debt of gratitude.”
Sir Leonard Blavatnik said: “My wife and I are delighted to support the historic renovation of The Courtauld, including the Blavatnik Fine Rooms. We congratulate all those associated with the project, a unique addition to London and the world of the fine arts.”
Professor Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld, said: “I am incredibly excited to be welcoming people back to The Courtauld Gallery in its Somerset House home later next year, for the first time since its closure in 2018. This will be a significant first step in the transformation of The Courtauld, enabling new and diverse audiences to discover our outstanding collection, whilst providing the best possible environment to study and research the history of art. It is an important milestone in our ongoing work to deliver our founder Samuel Courtauld’s vision of making great art accessible to all.”
Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to support the transformation of the historic Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House. Thanks to National Lottery players, one of the UK’s greatest art collections will be brought to life through new displays and interpretation from late next year. As well as improving visitor accessibility, the funding will support a new Learning Centre that will enable people of all ages to engage with the masterpieces on display. In addition to the significant onsite developments, partnership working enabled by this National Lottery grant has seen artworks from The Courtauld’s collection shared and displayed at institutions across the UK.”
The development is the most significant in the history of The Courtauld, founded in 1932, and since it moved to the North Wing of Somerset House in 1989. Future ambitions include providing students and faculty with improved study and teaching facilities and unprecedented access to its collections and exhibitions, whilst giving the public greater insight into and access to The Courtauld’s outstanding teaching and research.
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