Following a four-year renovation, the renowned Courtauld Gallery in London will open its doors again in November 2021. London-based architects Witherford Watson Mann designed what is now considered the most significant modernisation project in the gallery’s history, costing over £57 million.
“The Courtauld was founded in 1932 on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to engage with art,” explained Professor Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director of The Courtauld. “This major redevelopment has provided a unique opportunity to look at the collection afresh, and it provides new narratives and new ways of enjoying our works.”
Funding was provided by major sponsors including the luxury conglomerate LVMH, American-British billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project’s budget grew rapidly over the four years, with a spokesperson for the gallery stating “the Covid-19 pandemic has played a significant role in the cost increases.“
Artworks in the prestigious gallery will be completely redisplayed and reinterpreted. As well as brand new temporary exhibition spaces, a new room has been dedicated to the important collection of Medieval and Early Renaissance arts. The Courtauld have also commissioned a new large-scale painting by British artist Cecily Brown for the curved wall of the eighteenth-century staircase.
Impressionist giants like Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Édouard Manet (1832-1883), and Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) will reunite in the dramatically restored Great Room, now renamed the LVMH Great Room after its benefactor. This is the oldest purpose-built gallery space in London. A suite of six restored galleries across the second floor, known as the Blavatnik Fine Rooms, will display works from the Renaissance to the eighteenth century.
“These enhanced spaces will allow The Courtauld to give visitors greater insight into its collections, teaching and research and enable inspiring encounters with its great works of art,” said a spokesperson for the gallery.
Increasing the accessibility of the collection played a major role in the renovation. Step-free access has been added to the entrance, display cabinet heights have been adjusted and floor levels between rooms are now standardised. New interpretation aims to further attract more diverse audiences too.
Chairman of The Courtauld, The Lord Browne of Madingley, exalted the reopening as “one of the biggest cultural highlights of 2021 and a significant first step in the transformation of The Courtauld.”
Three temporary exhibitions will kick off an exciting programme of events in November; ‘Modern Drawings: The Karshan Gift’, ‘Pen to Brush: British Drawings and Watercolours’, and ‘Kurdistan in the 1940s’.