New Holburne Director named!

New Holburne Director named!

Bath’s Holburne Museum has named its new director. He’s Dr Chris Stephens – currently Head of Displays and Lead Curator of Modern British Art at Tate Britain. He will take up his new role in early July. Dr Stephens succeeds Jennifer Scott, now Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Dr Chris Stephens_portrait

Dr Chris Stephens. His most recent curation has been the on-going David Hockney retrospective that is projected to be the most popular exhibition in Tate Britain’s history.

John Barneby, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Holburne Museum, said: ‘I’m delighted, on behalf of the Trustees, to announce the appointment of Dr Chris Stephens as the new Director of the Holburne Museum to succeed Jennifer Scott.

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John Barneby, Chairman of Holburne Museum Trustees.

Chris has had an outstanding record at the Tate and once again the Holburne has been able to attract a top talent to continue to move it forward. I have every confidence that Chris will lead the Holburne with creative flair and grow the critical and popular success enjoyed by the Museum.’

On his appointment Chris Stephens said: ‘Since its reopening in 2011, I have admired the richness and professionalism of the Holburne, its staff and its programme, so I am thrilled to become its next Director and to continue and extend its innovation and all that it offers the people of Bath and beyond.’

Nick Serota, Director Tate, said: ‘Chris Stephens is an outstanding curator whose deep knowledge of British art, and of the twentieth century in particular, will bring real strength to the Holburne. In major exhibitions over the past decade he has brought new perspectives to the work of Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth and currently David Hockney.

He is widely recognised as the leading scholar on the St Ives School and has curated several exhibitions at Tate St Ives, including recently an important re-assessment of Peter Lanyon. Chris is widely respected in the art world and this affection and personal standing will carry the Holburne forward into an exciting new chapter.’

Alex Farquharson, Director Tate Britain, said: ‘Chris Stephens is a hugely respected and valued member of the Tate Britain team, where he leads the group of curators which has responsibility for modern British Art and the collection. His role in the hugely successful rehang of the collection of British art and redevelopment of Tate Britain is a significant achievement that leaves a substantial legacy for the public that reflects Chris’s enthusiasm, deep understanding of audiences and curatorial excellence.’

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Dr John Stephens © Tate Britain

As Head of Displays, Chris Stephens has overseen the programming, planning and delivery of the collection displays at Tate Britain since 2001. He played a key role in a major refurbishment of the building and in the complete rehang of the collection that accompanied it in 2013.

He is recognised as a leading scholar in 20th century British art and leads the team responsible for the development of and research into Tate’s collection from 1900 to the 1970s.

Chris’s own main area of research has been into artists in Cornwall in the 1940s and 50s and he has curated numerous successful exhibitions at Tate St Ives, including ‘Barbara Hepworth: Centenary’ (2003), ‘Peter Lanyon’ (2010) and ‘International Encounters: St Ives and Modern Art (2014); his book on the subject will be published in 2018. At Tate Britain he has curated a series of major exhibitions, including Gwen & Augustus John (2004), Francis Bacon (2008), Henry Moore (2010), Picasso and British Art (2012), Barbara Hepworth (2015) and, most recently, the on-going David Hockney retrospective that is projected to be the most popular exhibition in Tate Britain’s history.

Here’s links to a couple of YouTube pieces that show the man in action.

Defining a dynasty- a gem of a show.

Defining a dynasty- a gem of a show.

For colour – and sheer quality – Bath’s Holburne Museum has got itself a little gem of a new exhibition which brings together a variety of artistic work – across the whole  Bruegel family dynasty – for the first time in this country.


Guests admire the newly-discovered masterpiece.

Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty helps unravel the complex family tree – revealing the originality and diversity of its members across four generations of painters.


Thirty-five works are on display – including masterpieces from the National Gallery, Royal Collection Trust, the National trust, the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the Barber lnstitute of Fine Arts.

Pride of place goes to the discovery of a masterpiece in the museum’s own collection.

This is Director Jennifer Scott’s last big show before she leaves for a new post as Director of the Dulwich Gallery in London.


Bruegel expert Amy Orrock and Holburne Director Jennifer Scott.

She has co-curated the display with Bruegel expert Amy Orrock who has also written  a book to accompany the exhibition.


The book Amy Orrock has written to accompany the exhibition.

lt’s not the biggest of galleries to lay out such an exclusive exhibition but – with a clever use of space and colour – the Holburne’s succeeded in providing the perfect background to show off both the talent and diversity of Antwerp’s most famous artistic dynasty and give you room to appreciate it.

Bath Newseum spoke to Jennifer and Amy – just before the special preview.


A book to accompany the exhibition Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty is written by Amy Orrock and published by Philip Wilson and will be on sale in the Holburne’s Gift Shop for £16.95.

Principal Exhibition Sponsor Bath Spa University Bruegel: Defining a Dynasty 11 February – 4 June 2017 £10 Full Price | £9 concessions | £5 Art Fund, Full Time Student | FREE Entry to under 16s and All Museum Members All tickets purchased online will state 5pm but are valid at any time during our opening hours The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB

Open daily, free admission 10am to 5pm (11am to 5pm Sundays and Bank Holidays) T: 01225 388569 | E: |

Holburne Director leaves for Dulwich.

Holburne Director leaves for Dulwich.

p1160219Jennifer Scott, Director of the Holburne Museum, has been appointed as the new Sackler Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery. Jennifer will take up this position in April 2017, replacing Ian A C Dejardin, who is joining the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Ontario, Canada, as Chief Executive. 


Jennifer joined the Holburne Museum as Director in August 2014. Since then she has played a significant role in shaping the Museum’s centenary celebrations, with three critically acclaimed exhibitions in 2016. In addition, she led a successful £450,000 acquisition campaign for Sir Thomas Lawrence’s painting Arthur Atherley and a linked community engagement programme, and initiated conservation and research leading to new attributions, thereby positioning the Holburne as the primary UK Collection of works by Pieter Brueghel the Younger. Jennifer has also initiated innovative national and international partnerships for the Holburne and developed its reputation as one of the UK’s best-loved independent Museums.

Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum at the Sydney Gardens end of Great Pulteney Street.

Jennifer spoke to Bath Newseum about the news.

Richard Fleck, Chairman of Trustees at the Holburne Museum, said: “We will be very sad to lose Jennifer. She has achieved a great deal in her time at the Holburne – and the status of the Museum under her leadership has gone from strength to strength. This is a tremendous accolade for Jennifer, and also acknowledges the success and standing of the Holburne. We wish her well in her new position.”


Dulwich Gallery

Evelyn Welch, Chair of Trustees at Dulwich Picture Gallery, said: “I am delighted to be able to announce Jennifer’s appointment to this important role. Her passion for the Gallery is clear and her achievements at the Holburne Museum are an excellent foundation for joining Dulwich. We look forward to welcoming her on board as we look towards the Gallery’s future ambitions.”

From 2004-2014 Jennifer was Curator of Paintings at Royal Collection Trust. Prior to this she held positions at the National Gallery, London, and National Museums, Liverpool, and has curated a number of major exhibitions for The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh, The Bowes Museum County Durham and The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels.

Bath’s 2017 is going to be Crescent shaped.

Bath’s 2017 is going to be Crescent shaped.

On May 19th, 1767 the foundation stone was laid for the construction of what many would now consider to be Bath’s most iconic Georgian building.


So 2017  has a 250th anniversary to celebrate and – thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund award and other donations – Bath Preservation Trust – in collaboration with other cultural organisations – will be leading a whole host of walks, talks, exhibitions and free public events to mark this architectural date in history.


News of the foundation stone being laid from the Bath Chronicle.

Caroline Kay, Chief Executive of the Trust, outlined plans at an informal meeting of representatives of other cultural organisations, held at the Holburne Museum.


The informal gathering at the Holburne Museum getting a briefing on next year’s anniversary plans.

She is anxious to encourage other bodies to come on board and maybe work in some reference to the Royal Crescent in whatever programme of events they may be planning for next year.


The 250th anniversary logo

She also unveiled the logo the Trust will be using to promote the planned celebrations – which also coincide with the 30th anniversary of Bath’s inscription by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


Bath Preservation Trust Chief Executive Caroline Kay unveils the 250th anniversary logo for the Royal Crescent.

There is much to be finalised and an official launch in the New Year – once the exact HLF funding has been determined  – but here is a rough idea of some of what is in store from a  Bath Preservation Trust briefing:

“No other building represents the architectural innovation, social identity and creative imagination of Georgian Britain better than the Royal Crescent in Bath.  The foundation stone for this masterpiece of 18th century design was laid on 19th May 1767 and since then it has become one of the most famous buildings in Britain. 

It stands as a doorway through which the history of the Georgian period can be discovered and the architecture of the future inspired. 


Via exhibitions, debates, events and artworks the museums of Bath Preservation Trust will lead a year-long city-wide celebration of the Royal Crescent’s 250th anniversary – which also coincides with the 30th anniversary of Bath’s inscription by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Working in collaboration with other cultural organisations the celebrations will include over 70 events so far with lectures, walks, workshops and film screenings. There will be concerts and illuminations – even a grand parade.

I will keep Bath Newseum followers in the picture, but do also keep an eye on the Bath Preservation Trust website

Holburne show dazzler & a few surprises!

Holburne show dazzler & a few surprises!

Autumnal colour may be all about orange and gold but Bath’s Holburne Museum is currently wowing its visitors with an exhibition celebrating silver – a precious metal used through the centuries in arts and crafts.


Director, Jennifer Scott is here to tell Bath Newseum followers more about a real dazzler of a show but first l wanted to ask her if she’s noticed anything different about the museum’s front lawns on her way into work?

Silver: Light and Shade
22 October 2016 – 22 January 2017
£10 (£8.50 without donation) | £9 concessions (£7.50 without donation)
Book to accompany the exhibition written by Catrin Jones and Vanessa Brett £6.95

The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB
Open daily, free admission 10am to 5pm (11am to 5pm Sundays and Bank Holidays)
T: 01225 388569 | E: |
In Partnership with Bath Spa University
CLOSED 24 to 26 December and 1 January

About the Curators

Catrin Jones is Curator of Decorative Arts at the Holburne Museum in Bath. Alongside Silver: Light and Shade, she is currently working on various commissions including Linda Brothwell’s The Missing, a contemporary response to the Holburne’s collection.

Vanessa Brett is an independent scholar, historian and silver specialist. Her most recent book, Bertrand’s Toyshop in Bath: Luxury Retailing 1685–1765, published in 2014, was described by reviewers as ‘delightful and idiosyncratic’ and ‘a genuinely fresh and original contribution to social history’.


Silver: Light and Shade: Celebrating the 1916 Centenary

This exhibition is part of a series of three major exhibitions to celebrate 100 years since Sir William Holburne’s collection moved to its permanent home on Great Pulteney Street in Bath.

And here’s the Mayor of Bath, Cllr Paul Crossley paying the exhibition a special visit. Curator of Decorative Arts, Catrin Jones, is showing him a silver gilt cup – presented to Bath by the Prince of Wales in 1738 – and loaned to the exhibition by B&NES.


Holburne Director, Jennifer Scott, with the Mayor of Bath, Cllr Paul Crossley and Catrin Jones who is Curator of Decorative Arts. The silver gilt cup is on display between them.

The Holburne Museum first opened in 1893 in a former bank in Charlotte Street, Bath.  However, the premises were too small for the collection and by 1913 the Holburne Trustees had negotiated the purchase of the Sydney Hotel and part of the surrounding Sydney Gardens.  The museum opened to visitors on 6 June 1916 in its new home, converted by Reginald Blomfield. The collection, curated by George P. Dudley Wallis (1883-1977), was described the following year in The Burlington Magazine as ‘a model of arrangement for all local museums and for many larger and more valuable collections.’ 


2016 is a year of special celebration of the Museum and its collection. Silver is one of the great strengths of Sir William Holburne’s founding bequest. The silver on show from the permanent collection consists of grand, buffet-style displays, and smaller celebrations of intricacy and craftsmanship. Comprising rare early English pre-Civil War survivals, European and English silver-gilt for display and eighteenth-century domestic silver, the collection also includes significant groups of Dutch and German flatware and vessels from the seventeenth century. Silver: Light and Shade provides an opportunity to use Holburne’s collection as a catalyst for a wider exploration of historic and contemporary silver.

A penny for your thoughts?

A penny for your thoughts?

B&NES has big plans for making historic Sydney Gardens more ’21st century’ friendly. That’s if the council is successful in attracting Heritage Lottery funding to pay for a sensitive make-over that acknowledges the past as well as the present.

sydney gardens

Sydney Gardens became a municipal park in 1909.

The gardens were opened in 1795 as a Georgian ‘Vauxhall’ or pleasure grounds which offered  – for those who paid to come in – such adult delights as swings, a grotto and labrynth, waterfalls, bowling greens and public outdoor breakfasts with music!

canal sydney gardens gate

The Kennet and Avon through Sydney Gardens.

Both John Rennie’s canal and Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s railway were later to criss-cross these pleasure grounds of picnics and promenading. Private grounds turned into a public space when they became a municipal park in 1909.

sydney gardens

The central driveway.

There’s not much left of the original design – apart from the central driveway (and maybe some mature trees?)  – but of course history continues to be ‘laid down’ on the landscape.

Tennis courts and a bowling green have been added over the years.


The bowling green.

However, following the decision by the bowling club to end their lease at the end of 2016 bowling season – due to a falling membership – the plan is to will the pavilion into a new café and the former bowling green will provide a venue for informal play and activities such as yoga, tai chi and salsa.


The bottom tennis courts.

The latest design also includes a multi-use ball game area within the footprint of the current bottom courts – creating space where a wide range of informal and other ball games can be played; such as basketball, football, volleyball and table tennis.

Ultimately this would provide a more flexible space for a wider range of different types of active play than can currently be accommodated by six permanent tennis courts.


The newly refurbished loos

Just recently the public toilets were ‘upgraded’ and are now operated via a 20 p piece in the slot. 


Ancient and modern

But alongside the block stands the remains of a gentlemen’s public lavatories – erected in 1910 – and an unusual survival of a once common type made by the Star Works of Birmingham.


There’s the remains of a Victorian ladies loo in there somewhere!

I had never stopped to wonder where the ladies version of this ornamental restroom would have stood but came across it tucked away behind the gents and completely overgrown and fenced off.


The Victorian gents!

I hear on the grapevine, that the intention might be to used portions of the much more dilapidated ladies loo to restore the more complete gents.


The ornamental structure is Grade 11 listed!

These are Grade 11 listed structures – so such plans will have to be well considered.

Long term B&NES are looking to the public for ideas as to how the restored feature could be used. A novel and useful way to enhance and ensure its survival. A relic from an age when spending a penny meant just that!

Park gate now open at the Holburne

Park gate now open at the Holburne

Bath’s Holburne Museum has unveiled its new look for the cafe terrace and  surrounding garden leading into Sydney Gardens behind this historic building.


The steps down into the Holburne from Sydney Gardens.

The rear gate is now open and the new steps able to be used. The museum has still to lay the remains of a special surface to enable the disabled to use the rear entrance.


The special reinforced grass surface being prepared for wheelchair and pushchair users.

This will enable grass to grow through its patterned surface but provide a tough enough membrane for wheelchair users and pushchairs.


Looking towards the new steps. The garden furniture is to be replaced.

The cafe’s garden furniture is also going to be replaced very soon!