Behind-the-scenes of Leighton House's renovation project

17/11/2020

If you have walked past Leighton House this last year, you may have spotted the large scaffolding covering the building next door, a part of the museum known as the Perrin wing, added in the early 20th century. The Perrin wing has been used mainly as an office for the past decades, but it offered little public benefit and was not sympathetic to the historic building.

Leighton House with the Perrin wing under construction

The ongoing construction works are in fact part of the culminating phase of an award-winning restoration project begun in 2008, which will transform the museum. This final redevelopment phase, Hidden Gem to National Treasure: Opening up Leighton House Museum, focuses precisely on the Perrin Wing addition, and will dramatically increase publicly accessible space, whilst preserving the historic fabric of Leighton’s home. For the first time disabled users will be able to access all public areas in the Museum, thanks to the construction of a lift and staircase module, where Oneness will be painted. Shahrzad Ghaffari’s mural will act as a connector between the rich historic interiors and the new redeveloped spaces, which will allow for:

  • Improved visitor facilities & amenities, including a new entrance and reception area with a dedicated shop, cloakrooms and a café with garden views, occupying the recovered area beneath the Winter Studio, bricked-off in the 1950s.
  • A dedicated education suite to receive groups of all ages and offer opportunity for continued learning, with direct access to the garden.
  • A drawings gallery for the display of the museum's great collection of Leighton’s drawings, which includes over 700 works, plus new permanent displays on Leighton, De Morgan and the history of the house and the ‘Holland Park Circle’ of neighbouring artists’ studio-houses.
  • A collections store, climate controlled, energy efficient and able to house the museum’s archive and collection of Victorian artworks.
  • Leighton’s Entrance Hall and Winter Studio to be returned to their original condition and reinstated within the historic narrative of the house.

We are excited to share with you an exclusive sneak peek of the progress onsite: the new basement has been built, as have the staff offices at the top of the Perrin wing. The original columns and space beneath the Winter Studio have been revealed, after more than 50 years behind brick walls - the Victorian architectural features recovered will be restored, and be visible once more after the reopening. The position of the staircase rotunda, where Oneness will be held, has already been marked, and its sample brick wall currently stands in the garden - can you spot the homage to the Arab Hall exterior design?

To the left, details of the original iron columns behind the 1950s brick infill, the original Victorian kitchen range revealed and the open space under the Winter Studio, now recovered and with the basement level completed below. To the right, sample brick wall for the staircase rotunda.

We are very grateful to all our Art Happens donors who have made our ambition of making Oneness the final piece of this redevelopment project a reality. With only 3 days until the end of the campaign this Thursday 19 November, we can't believe we have already reached 130%! All extra funds raised will go to making Oneness as spectacular as possible, providing Shahrzad with the scaffolding needed to reach every corner of the wall. So please continue sharing and spreading the word if you can, and take this last chance to join the campaign and support this striking last piece of the Hidden Gem journey!

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