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Birmingham's Baroque art masterpieces to get new lease of life in transformed BMAG galleries

Research project transforms visitor experience of two galleries of 17th century European art at BMAG

 

Baroque art masterpieces by Peter Paul Rubens, Peter Lely and Claude Lorrain will be re-displayed in Birmingham following a two-year research project.

Birmingham Museums Trust (BMT) holds one of the finest collections of 17th century European painting in the UK, containing many works of international significance.

The works will be re-displayed at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) following the research project made possible thanks to a National Gallery Curatorial Traineeship supported by the Art Fund with the assistance of the Vivmar Foundation, in partnership with BMT.

Curatorial trainee Helen Hillyard is behind the research project to transform the visitor experience of the two galleries of 17th century European art at BMAG, including the re-display of important works, the creation of family trails and the introduction of interactive features to engage audiences of all ages.

Work from Northern Europe will go on display in Gallery 24 with Gallery 25 focusing on Southern Europe. It will be the first time French paintings have been displayed as a group within the gallery. It will illustrate the Baroque style across diverse art forms, displaying sculptural works next to the paintings as part of a display supported by the Henry Moore Foundation.

The galleries contain an exceptional collection of Italian Baroque painting including the only autograph work by Orazio Gentileschi in a public collection in the UK.

Also featured is work by famous artists such as Peter Lely, Peter Paul Rubens and Claude Lorrain, as well as Guercino’s masterpiece Erminia and the Shepherd.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Ms Hillyard also researched Birmingham Museums’ collection of Dutch, Flemish and Italian paintings and sculptures and has overseen the development of new displays and educational resources aimed at children and young people as part of the project.

Ms Hillyard won her place on the National Gallery traineeship after studying History of Art at the University of Cambridge and undertaking the MA Curating the Art Museum at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has also worked for the Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow, and held internships at the National Maritime Museum and Manchester Art Gallery.

She said: “In spite of the strength of Birmingham Museums’ collection, there had previously been little opportunity to undertake new research into the collection, nor review how it might be better interpreted to effectively engage new audiences.

“The partnership with the National Gallery has enhanced the research and documentation around this collection and is now being used to inform a redisplay of the two 17th century galleries.

“This will improve the visitor experience of the galleries, transforming the quality of the display, interpretation and educational resources in order to further visitor engagement, particularly amongst families and school groups.”

The Baroque Galleries will be re-launched at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on June 18.

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