London’s Courtauld Gallery, one of the British capital’s most outstanding art collections, reopened its doors on November 19 after being closed during three years for renovation. The fully refurbished museum is one more reason for fine arts freaks and world travellers to travel back to London.

Visitors to the Gallery in Somerset House can again admire masterpieces from The Courtauld’s collection, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Art pieces were completely rearranged and reinterpreted across elegantly refurbished galleries, revealing the quality and range of the collection like never before. New spaces have been created for The Courtauld’s temporary exhibitions as well as for projects that highlight the institution’s research-led educational mission.

The redevelopment revitalises and opens up the building conceived by Sir William Chambers in the 1770s to create an inspiring setting for the 21st Century. The project has been supported with £11m (€13.1m) from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, £10m (€11.9m) from philanthropists Sir Leonard and Lady Blavatnik, and the Blavatnik Family Foundation, as well as generous donations from other foundations and individuals.

The Blavatnik Fine Rooms, spanning the second floor, provide a spectacular setting for a series of new displays of works from the Renaissance to the 18th century. Highlights include Botticelli’s large-scale The Trinity with Saints and The Courtauld’s celebrated collection of works by Peter Paul Rubens.

The Courtauld’s renowned collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, including Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889), and the most significant collection of works by Cézanne in the UK are now visible in the restored LVMH Great Room, London’s oldest purpose-built exhibition space.

The stately Somerset House built at the end of the 18th century is home to the prestigious Courtauld Gallery art collection (The Courtauld Gallery. Photo Benedict Johnson)

More spaces for world renowned art pieces

A modern painting “The Myth of Prometheus” by the great Austrian Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka – over eight metres long, and considered to be one of the artist’s most important works, is also displayed at The Courtauld for the first time in over a decade.

A new gallery has been created on the first floor to present the gallery’s important collection of paintings and decorative arts from the Medieval and Early Renaissance periods, including Islamic metalwork, alongside works from Italy and Northern Europe. Furthermore, two brand new galleries on the top floor are dedicated to temporary exhibitions.

A further highlight is a new large-scale painting by the renowned contemporary artist Cecily Brown – specially commissioned for the curved wall at the top of The Courtauld’s historical staircase.

The reshaping of the gallery building has made its historic spaces more accessible for disabled visitors, with numerous improvements including step-free entrance access, new display cabinets, widened doors, and standardised floor levels between rooms. A new visitor welcome area has been created on the ground floor. Enhanced visitor facilities also include a newly constructed shop and a new Art Café.

The collection’s interpretation has been completely revisited, drawing on The Courtauld’s expertise in art history education and research, as well as exploring the history of the rooms in which the collection is based. The Gallery’s digital programme has also been expanded.

Teaching and research facilities in the Gallery have been enhanced with new collection study spaces, and the complete refurbishment of the suite of teaching and research facilities within The Courtauld’s Department of Conservation. Dedicated facilities are also now available for visiting schools and community groups with dedicated space for education activities exploring art, art history and one of London’s most famous collections.


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