Wednesday, November 12, 2008

V&A to begin work on £30m medieval and Renaissance galleries project

The Victoria and Albert Museum is to put its entire collection of medieval and Renaissance art into one continuous display for the first time, thanks to a £30 million project to improve its galleries.

One of the 10 new galleries will feature translucent onyx window screens, so the light falling on the religious artefacts shown will be just like that in medieval churches.

The galleries project is the biggest at the museum since 2001, when it launched a £31 million initiative to transform the British Galleries.

Over the next 12 months builders will get to work putting the plans by architects MUMA into practice.

The idea has been to utilise dead space on the South Kensington site and illuminate the vast collection with natural light where possible.

More than 1,800 objects, covering the period from 300 to 1,600, will be re-displayed.

Highlights from across the ages will include the Symmachi Panel, described by the V&A as "one of the finest surviving ivories from the Late Antique Period in Rome" dating from around 400AD; to "the largest and most splendid of the enamel caskets dedicated to St Thomas Becket", dating from about 1180; to the Boar and Bear Hunt tapestry, one of the only "great hunting tapestries to have survived from the 15th century."

There will also be an entire gallery dedicated to the work of the 15th century Italian sculptor, Donatello.

The Heritage Lottery Fund provided £9.75 million funding, while private donors funded much of the remainder.

Mark Jones, director of the V&A, said: "We hope that the new displays, featuring some of the most beautiful and historic objects from our collections, will inspire all our visitors."

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