Victoria & Albert Museum

V&A Cast Court restored to Victorian splendour

£2m, two year refurbishment to open next month

Henry Cole, the founding director of the South Kensington Museum (as the Victoria and Albert Museum was then known), was such an enthusiast for plaster casts of great monuments that he wanted countries to swap their best examples. In 1862, he persuaded 15 European princes to sign up to the International Convention of Promoting Universally Reproductions of Works of Art. The museum went on to assemble a comprehensive collection in two purpose-built galleries, or courts, that opened in 1873. On 29 November, the refurbished Italian Cast Court, renamed the Weston Cast Court after the Garfield Weston Foundation, is due to reopen. The nearly £2m, two-year project, which included restoring the court’s original colours, was also supported by the Henry Moore Foundation. Newly conserved examples include a 1945 cast of a 1590s crucifix by Giambologna (above). Restoring the second cast court is next in line.