In 2022 the Russell-Cotes received £518,000 from Arts Council England MEND Fund, matched by £499,000 from BCP Council and £33,000 raised from public donations. This funding was provided by ACE to support the backlog of maintenance issues in the museum sector. This has enabled the Russell-Cotes to embark on a major capital project which will significantly enhance the building and protect it and its collection for the future. This £1 million project includes work to:
- Replace all our out-of-date air handling and environmental control systems
- Increase CCTV provision
- Improve drainage
- Refurbish the historic conservatory
Air Handling and Environmental Controls – We have now completed the replacement of our 25-year-old boilers and air handling units in the museum and galleries, which were at the point of failure. This work allows the museum to provide the environmental conditions required for the conservation of our paintings, collections and interiors, as well as the loan work from other museums. Stable humidity levels are vital to conservation. The new modern and efficient equipment will also reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint, saving money which can then be used for other purposes. It has been a once in a generation opportunity to update our infrastructure.
Drainage – We have also now completed drainage improvements to stop the pooling of foul water in the gardens.
Conservatory – One of the unique features of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is the magnificent dusky pink Victorian conservatory. Merton and Annie decided to add a conservatory to the south elevation of their home in 1898 and the room served as a haven for the couple to enjoy the spectacular sea views and to provide a link to their tranquil and idyllic garden. The severe storms between October 2013 and March 2014 took their toll on this fragile and important structure. Today, this unusual glass building is a rare and important survivor of the house’s history and now, we can start to restore the conservatory to its former glory.
The conservatory refurbishment is scheduled to begin in March 2024 and it should take about 4 months. Once complete we hope this space will be used by visitors and for special events. The refurbishment aims to repair and restore the main structural damage to the conservatory, and we have plans to explore the traditional design features to bring it back to it’s original aesthetic. We have been carrying out paint analysis to assess whether the conservatory was originally the pink colour we see today, and in fact it was, along with hints of blue, so we are looking forward to reimagining Annie Russell-Cotes’ original design. As a key highlight when visiting the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, a peaceful place to sit and appreciate unrivalled views, this crucial project is part of our joint efforts to keep this historic house maintained and preserved for visitors to enjoy now and long into the future.
While this work is going on there is likely to be scaffolding on the building, limited access to the Terrace and additional noise and activity. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience or disruption caused whilst we undergo refurbishment works and please be aware that the building works may impact your visit.
Thank you for your continued support. You can still support this and other museum projects by making a donation (find out more at russellcotes.com/donations), Becoming a Friend of the Museum or leaving a legacy.