A generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and other donations amounting to a total £5 million, enabled the transformation of the galleries to be carried out. The thematic displays explore Morris’s varied career as a designer, hands-on craftsman, businessman, poet and social activist. It welcomed more than 80,000 visitors in the first six months.
The Textile Conservancy won the tender to prepare over fifty textiles for display, ranging from pile rugs, printed cottons and examples of exquisite embroidery.
The majority of textiles were mounted onto conservation-grade padded boards but in some instances, where lengths of fabric were to be displayed, padded rollers were created. For an embroidered cloak, a specific support system was devised that enabled it to be safely supported for display. The practice also arranged for many of the textiles to be further mounted into acrylic (Perspex) box frames.
Ten months later, the gallery was named the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2013. The Victoria and Albert Museum hosted the award ceremony that was also broadcast live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.
The director of the Art Fund and chair of the judges, is reported to have said that “the 10 finalists for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year have set world-class standards”.
“The William Morris Gallery is truly Museum of the Year. Its extraordinary collections, beautifully presented, draw the visitor engagingly through Morris’s life and work and through the building itself. Setting the highest standards of curatorship, and reaching out impressively to its local community, it offers a memorable way of experiencing art of the highest quality in the context of a great historic personality.”
The Textile Conservancy is delighted to have been part of the refurbishment project.
To view some of the Galleries online please go to: www.wmgallery.org.uk