Kenwood’s US tour pays off
North London mansion to reopen after a £6m repair and redisplay project
By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 251, November 2013
Published online: 26 November 2013
An American tour of paintings from Kenwood House, in north London, has raised £230,000 towards the cost of restoring the mansion, which is due to reopen this week after a £6m repair and redisplay project.
The show, “Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: the Treasures of Kenwood House, London”, was organised by the American Federation of Arts. It went to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum and Arkansas Arts Center (where it closed on 8 September). The 50 paintings on tour included Kenwood’s late self-portrait by Rembrandt, around 1665. Along with the four venue fees, £25,000 worth of catalogues of the collection were sold.
Kenwood House is due to reopen on 28 November after a 19-month closure. The house, which overlooks Hampstead Heath, was in urgent need of repairs, particularly the roof and exterior walls. The original Robert Adam decorative scheme has been restored, with more accurate paint colouring (particularly in the library, one of the most important 18th-century interiors in Britain). The paintings have also been redisplayed. The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £3.9m towards the project.
Kenwood House was remodelled by Robert Adam in 1779 and bequeathed to the nation, along with its collection, by the Earl of Iveagh in 1927. It represents the finest collection of Old Masters donated to the British public in the 20th century. It is now run by English Heritage.
Kenwood’s dairy, built in the style of a Swiss chalet, has also been restored, and will be open to visitors on occasional weekends.
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