In 2022 the Russell-Cotes was successful in its application to the Arts Council England MEND fund for £518,000, matched by £426,000 from BCP Council and £30,000 raised from donations. This funding was provided by ACE to support the backlog of maintenance issues in the museum sector. It was highly competitive and we were one of only a handful of museums in the South West to receive funding. This funding will be used to restore the conservatory (summer 2023), replace the plant ( March 2023 – Jan 2024 in phases), improve drainage and CCTV. It is a wonderful opportunity to address a very significant aspect of building maintenance which is long overdue.
The first phase of work starting on 13 March 2023 and finishing by end of May 2023 will see the strip out and replacement of all the boilers and air handling units in the museum and galleries. This project will enable the museum to renew all its duct work, boilers, air handling units and therefore provide the environmental conditions required for the conservation of our paintings, collections and interiors as well as the loan of work from other museums. Conservation care requires stable humidity levels. It will provide modern, efficient equipment which will provide better environmental conditions whilst significantly reducing our energy consumption, reducing our carbon footprints and saving money which can then be used for other purposes. It is a once in a generation opportunity to update our infrastructure.
The second phase of work will be starting from May 2023 onwards and will be focused on restoring and repairing the 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.
We will be looking 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 the 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, 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.
Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience or disruption caused whilst we undergo refurbishment works and please be aware that there may be some noise which affecting your visit. Thank you for your continued support.