London's Courtauld to reopen after three-year revamp

·2-min read
London's Courtauld Gallery reopens on November 19 after major renovations.

London's Courtauld Gallery, shut since 2018 for renovation works, reopens its doors later this month after what it said was the largest transformation project in its history.

The gallery, located in Somerset House, a listed building on the banks of the River Thames, has undergone a multi-million-pound renovation and restructuring.

"The Courtauld has one of the great collections in the UK," gallery director Ernst Vegelin van Claerbergen told AFP on Wednesday.

"What we wanted to do was marry it harmoniously to this important historic building. So the two things come together and work beautifully."

Among the major works carried out is the complete overhaul of the Great Room -- the oldest exhibition space in the British capital and home to the Royal Academy's summer exhibitions from 1780 to 1836.

The gallery has kept the exact cost of the renovations under wraps but it has involved financing from the LVMH Foundation.

Its world-renowned collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings will be displayed in the renamed LVMH Great Room.

On display when the gallery reopens to the public on November 19 will be works by Cezanne, Manet, Van Gogh, Modigliani, Seurat, Degas, Gauguin, Renoir and Monet.

Among the most famous pieces is Van Gogh's "Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear" and Manet's "A bar at the Folies-Bergere".

Van Claerbergen said coronavirus restrictions had also shut down the site for a time, forcing a cut in the number of staff working.

"It feels like the right time to be reopening in a sense," he added.

"The mood is changing and we hope this will sort of bring joy and delight and inspiration to people who want to go out and discover the city and reconnect with the arts again."

The project has been supported by £11 million ($14.9 million, 12.9 million euro) in funding from the UK's National Lottery Heritage Fund, and £10 million from Leonard and Emily Blavatnik.

Oil and media investor Leonard Blavatnik was Britain's richest man last year, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, with a personal fortune of £23 billion.

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