The Holburne says thank you!

It may currently be closed – but there are two bits of good news coming out of Bath’s  Holburne Museum today.

The first is that they have reached their Crowdfunding target – to help them survive the lockdown.

Then, with hopes they might be back in business later this summer, comes confirmation that their interrupted blockbuster exhibition – Grayson Perry – The Pre-Therapy Years – will be staying until the New Year!

Chris Stephens with Grayson Perry.

In an online message, the museum’s director, Chris Stephens said:

“As many of you will know, like several other organisations, the Holburne launched a crowdfunding appeal to help us through the Covid-19 emergency. I am delighted to say that the appeal has reached its target of £50,000, with almost 700 donations ranging from £5 to £5,000. We are so grateful to every single donor, to those who have donated off-line, and to Arts Council England for a grant from their emergency fund.

A lot has happened since we closed on 18 March and, like everyone else, we still have no idea when we might reopen or what that might look like.

As an independent museum with no public subsidy, we are usually dependent on our visitors: tickets, shop, car park, venue hire and café sales. The closure of the Museum meant the loss of all this income, but we have taken several actions to ensure that we have the best chance of surviving. Thanks to everyone’s generosity, we will weather this storm.

We have minimised the Museum’s expenditure. We have cancelled all but essential outgoings, ensuring the continued safety and security of our site and our collection. We have only a very small team working while the rest of our staff are currently protected by the government’s furloughing scheme.

Fortunately, when we closed we were showing by far our most successful exhibition ever – Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy Years – which was surpassing all Holburne records. I’m delighted to say that we have been able to extend that show from May to the New Year and will follow it in early 2021 with Canaletto: Painting Venice, so we have a programme for everyone to enjoy once it is safe to reopen.


That said, we are increasingly conscious that reopening will not see us out of the woods. We will be facing a host of challenges when we recommission the building, reboot the programme and rebuild the funds that we have lost. We do not yet know how restricted we will be by social distancing. Needless to say, the future of the Holburne as we know it and its future ambitions will rely on greater support.

As we continue our work and plan for the future, we are delighted to have the support of both Bath universities and to be working in partnership with them and colleagues in cultural organisations and other public bodies and businesses locally and nationally. This crisis has demonstrated the value of art and culture to individuals’ lives and wellbeing and we will continue to work together to extend art’s opportunities to as many people as possible.

Do keep an eye on our website and social media for updates and for our regular online activities. Each week is themed, with a work in focus being posted each Monday, a past exhibition on Throwback Thursday, and a virtual creative workshop – Creativity4Wellbeing – every Wednesday afternoon (some highlights). Join in or log on to see others’ creations.

I want to thank everyone who has stepped in to help us at this time. It is very moving and quite humbling that hundreds of people, old friends and many not known to us, have shown their love for the Holburne by donating and by publicising our fundraising efforts. We can’t wait to be together again in person.”