This summer will be the last chance to visit The Courtauld Gallery before it closes on 3 September for a two-year or more £50m major redevelopment programme.
Westminster Council granted permission last September for the refurbishment, known as Courtauld Connects, to go ahead. The Design Access statement by Stirling Prize-winning architects Witherford Watson Mann revealed that the Institute will be transformed ‘through the conservation, repair and refurbishment of fabric to deliver improved Galleries, art conservation, learning and research spaces. The works will provide better spaces to display collections and maintain their care, as well as enhanced teaching and research facilities.’
The Courtauld Institute of Art is the world’s leading centre for the study of the history and conservation of art and architecture. Its Gallery houses one of Britain’s best-loved collections. The Courtauld is an independent college of the University of London. From September 2018, it will be moving to Vernon Square, King’s Cross, until 2022 when the works will be completed.
The plan is to expand the gallery’s Great Room and refurbish the first and second-floor galleries creating more than 143 square metres of floor space by reconfiguring and rationalising existing areas. There will be a remodelled entrance, new and improved displays of the permanent collection, a new temporary exhibition space, newly integrated back of house facilities for storage and art handling and improved spaces for conservation plus a new Learning Centre that will increase access for school children, families, community groups and adult learners.
Other features include a new Public Research Forum, ‘Open Courtauld’, providing audiences nationally and internationally with a platform for debate, as well as sharing knowledge about topical and important issues in the arts and making all the image collections accessible through digitisation.
The works are divided into two phases. Phase one will focus on improving the building’s accessibility, visitor experience and the care of the internationally renowned collection. Phase two will provide state-of-the-art teaching, learning and research facilities including improved facilities and social spaces for students, doubling the number of working spaces in the Book Library, improved teaching rooms, faculty offices, lecture theatres and staff facilities plus dedicated spaces for close object study and for student work and exhibitions.
The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Courtauld Gallery has been housed in the magnificent 18th-century Grade I listed Somerset House in the Strand since 1989. Founded in 1932, the collection was started by Samuel Courtauld and is particularly renowned for its unrivalled collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings included iconic masterpieces by Manet (A Bar at the Folies Bergere), Degas (Two Dancers on the stage), Van Gogh (Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear), Gauguin (Nevermore) and Cezanne (Montagne Sainte-Victoire with Pine Tree). With over 530 paintings and 26,000 drawings and prints, it has become one of the capital’s most influential collections. It also has one of the richest holdings of early Italian art in Britain, as well as masterpieces by Lucas Cranach and Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
During phase one of the refurbishment, parts of the collection will be on display in London and at regional and international venues.
London-based architects Witherford Watson Mann won the 2013 RIBA Stirling Prize for the renovation of Astley Castle, Warwickshire creating a two-storey residence within the ruins of a 12th-century castle.
Top Photo: © Artlyst 2018