A week to remember at the Royal Pavilion & Museums

Minarets of the Royal PavilionStaff at the Royal Pavilion & Museums celebrated a series of truly amazing announcements and events last week making it one of the most memorable in the service’s history. Read on to discover how the Beach Boys, Queen Victoria, the Arts Council and JMW Turner helped to make our unforgettable week!

It started on Sunday 22 January with the Royal Pavilion’s free day. The annual event marks the purchase by the town of the Royal Pavilion from Queen Victoria in 1850. This year’s People’s Palace Open Day campaign struck a cord with local residents and visitors alike. From 9.30am the queue snaked through the Royal Pavilion gardens throughout the day as people waited for the opportunity to see the spectacular palace for free. In all, staff welcomed 3,262 visitors to the building. This is about 1,000 more than would normally visit on a busy weekend in peak season in the summer.

Sunday was also the closing day of the Royal Pavilion Ice Rink. The rink has yet again been a huge success boosting the city’s winter tourist economy and contributing to increased visitor numbers at both the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum. We look forward to welcoming the team back again in November 2012.

The Royal Pavilion Ice Rink at night
On Monday 23 January it was announced that Brighton Museum & Art Gallery had been successful in its bid to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport /Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund for £100,000. The grant will be used to transform one of the existing museum galleries into a space where displays can be changed quickly, bringing more of the museum’s outstanding collections into the public eye. New flexible display cases, complete with the latest digital technology, will help to modernise the museum and enable staff to work more closely with young people, community groups and digital media companies.

You can read the press release here.

On Tuesday 24 January it was announced that the service was one of just 16 in the country to receive prestigious Arts Council Renaissance Major Partner awards. Although the service has received Renaissance funding as part of a South East consortia of Museums for the last 7 years, for 2012/15 the awards were based on open applications from museum services across the country. Over the next three years the grant will fund, among other things, better access to exhibits via digital technology, more exhibitions and collaborations, skills training for staff and artists, apprenticeships, improved marketing, developments in fundraising, and work to provide leadership within the museums sector in the region.

The Royal Pavilion & Museums was praised for its £2.7 million application which represented:

‘a highly imaginative and innovative response to the Arts Council’s goals. Rooted firmly in confidence of the range and recognised significance of its collections as its core asset, the service presents a well evidenced and inspirational application to build on current practice and achieve excellence over the next three years.’

You can read the press release here.

On Wednesday 25 January a member of our night team pointed us to some amazing You Tube footage they had found of the Beach Boys playing on the roof of the Royal Pavilion in the early 1970s. We posted a link via our popular social media channels and was widely shared.

On Thursday 26 January with a significant grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF),  along with an award from the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, and a donation from the Royal Pavilion & Museums Foundation, we successfully bid on a JMW Turner watercolour being auctioned at Christies in New York.

The watercolour was purchased for $352,500 (£225,000), and is believed to have been painted in 1824-5. It has been in private hands and unseen by the public for more than 100 years and will go on show at the Royal Pavilion soon after it arrives in the city.

The Chain Pier, Brighton, by JMW Turner, c1824
The Chain Pier, Brighton, by JMW Turner, c1824. Copyright Christie’s Images, 2012

The painting depicts Brighton from the sea, with the newly constructed chain pier on the right of the picture and the Royal Pavilion at the centre. It will be the star attraction of a new exhibition at the historic royal palace in 2013.

You can read the press release here.

For the past two weeks (ending Saturday 4 February) the Royal Pavilion has been closed to the public to allow essential maintenance work to take place. Usually open 7 days a week all year round, the closed period allows for more significant work to be made in public areas to ensure that future visitors enjoy the best experience possible. Behind the scenes, staff have been working hard cleaning upholstery, furniture, and the beautiful murals on the Music Room walls. Conservation staff are working in the public display rooms including the Octagon Hall and Music Room Gallery, and the restoration of the hand painted glass laylights in the South Gallery on the upper floor is being completed, after their meticulous repainting by the Glass Conservator.

These essential improvements are being made possible by external funding secured by the Royal Pavilion to help carry out these works.

We look forward to reopening our (newly painted!) doors and welcoming visitors again from Saturday 4 February. For the staff here at the Royal Pavilion & Museums there will be an added touch of excitement in the air about what the next twelve months has to offer thanks to the funding announcements of last week!

Janita Bagshawe (and staff),
Head of Royal Pavilion and Museums

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