‘Spectacular’ new gallery planned for the Holburne

I think it’s fair to say that – for most of us – the only current reason for visiting the lower ground floor at the Holburne Museum, would be to use the loo.

However, if a planning application is successful in getting local authority approval, by 2025 we’ll be stepping down to visit a newly-built and spectacular basement gallery housing what’s been described as ‘one of the most important world-class collections of silver in private hands.’

Detail taken from planning application

The collection – which is made up of 16th century ( and earlier and later) silver, ceramics and bronzes – is being acquired on ‘permanent loan’ – though we don’t as yet know who owns it.

Whoever it is – be it he, she or they – this benefactor would be picking up most of the costs of installing the new gallery spaces and undertaking a general refurbishment of the museum.

I picked up on the notice of a planning application – via the weekly B&NES list – in which the museum is asking for permission to create new gallery spaces on both the ground and lower ground floors, to improve artwork storage spaces and carry out improvements for public access and WC facilities.

Detail taken from planning application

The basement area would see the creation of galleries for the silver collection and ceramics. The Holburne’s Director, Chris Stephens told me: ” We would be creating a spectacular treasury-style gallery in the basement with a new picture gallery on the first floor. We want to open up the ground floor with a central circulation space and generally upgrading things. We want to bring more space into public use.’

It would be the biggest intervention in this Grade 1 listed historic Georgian building since 2011 when it reopened after restoration and a contemporary extension designed by Eric Parry Architects and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It’s home to fine and decorative arts – built around the collection of Sir William Holburne. Artists in the collection include Gainsborough, Guardi, Stubbs, Ramsay and Zoffany.

Detail taken from planning application.

The newly acquired collection would certainly add a new dimension to what the Holburne is able to show and would enhance its reputation at home and abroad.

Detail taken from planning application.

Have a look through the application yourselves via: https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/webforms/planning/details.html?refval=23%2F02218%2FLBA

1 Comment

  1. Maybe one of the major Middle Eastern players in the art market? They have set up a number of exhibition spaces in European cities for parts of their collections.

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