Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum to reopen after major project

Fitzwilliam Museum
Image caption The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge

A two-year refurbishment of the main gallery at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge "makes the works of art sing", a director has said.

The public will be welcomed back inside the museum from Monday, with last-minute work taking place to complete the work.

Jane Munro, director of the gallery's refurbishment, said: "There is a completely new wall covering, which we all think makes the works of art sing.

"A huge amount of detail has gone into this - the colour of the paint, the colour of the braiding, the painting of the kickboards."

Jane Munro
Image caption Jane Munro, director of the gallery's refurbishment, said the colour of the walls had been changed to complement the artwork

"Everything is different," said Ms Munro.

"The plasterwork in the ceiling, which is one of the most astonishing museum interiors anywhere, has been cleaned, freshened up and painted in parts, and you can see all the crisp detail."

Fitzwilliam Museum
Image caption The ceiling of the gallery is Grade I-listed and features casts of the Parthenon frieze at the lower level

The museum has not disclosed the cost of the renovation.

Ms Munro said: "To celebrate the opening, we've got a series of astonishing paintings from the 17th Century from a private collection.

"They are by the two key painters at the British Court at the beginning of the 17th Century - Daniel Mytens and Anthony van Dyck."

Fitzwilliam Museum
Image caption Paintings from a private collection "absolutely complement the Fitzwilliam's own collections", said Ms Munro
Dr Adrian Popescu
Image caption As well as the paintings, the gallery features a world-class coin and medal collection, managed by Dr Adrian Popescu

Dr Adrian Popescu, keeper of coins and medals, said: "We are mounting a selection of the stars of our collection.

"The earliest are Tudor, including one of Elizabeth I celebrating the victory over the Spanish Armada. It is one of two existing medals of its kind."

Fitzwilliam Museum
Image caption The museum has a team of lighting experts ensuring the levels are just right both to protect the paintings and to show them off to visitors

Next to many of the items on display visitors will now find a series of special labels with a QR code.

When scanned with a smart phone, visitors are taken online and given more information not just about the work itself but also of areas of interest relating to the subject - such as how the fabrics depicted in a painting, for example, were made.

Fitzwilliam Museum
Image caption The gallery also features a number of sculptures alongside the paintings and antiquities
Fitzwilliam Museum
Image caption Testing devices measuring both the light and humidity levels have been covered in the new wall covering fabric to get readings that are as accurate as possible

For decades, the main gallery has been covered in a bright red fabric.

But that has now changed, with the museum opting instead for a deep maroon, which visitors will be able to see when the gallery re-opens on Monday evening.

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