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Leighton House museum and garden reopens to the public following redevelopment


The Leighton House Museum in Holland Park, London, has opened to the public following a multi-year redevelopment.

Owned and operated by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the art museum is housed in the former London home of sculptor and artist Frederic Leighton.

First opened to the public as a museum in 1929, the building was designed by architect George Aitchison as Leighton’s house and studio and is famous for its opulent orientalist and aesthetic interiors.

As a museum, Leighton House holds a unique collection of paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings and furnishings relating to the life of the artist.

The building’s £8m redevelopment was led by architects BDP and focused on the 20th-century additions made in a new wing at the east end of the original house.

The project has revealed original historic features and created new exhibition spaces and displays.

The museum’s De Morgan café now opens onto the redesigned garden, there is a new Learning Centre and a collections store. Full step-free access is now provided across the building for the very first time.

Works also included the recovery and restoration of parts of Leighton’s house, which had previously been lost in changes made in the 20th century.

Leighton’s Winter Studio – an extension built at the end of the 1880s to allow the artist to work through the winter months – is now fully restored and integrated into the rest of the historic house interiors.

The Entrance Hall has also been reinstated as it was in Leighton’s day, featuring a large painting from the workshop of Domenico Tintoretto, which formed part of Leighton’s original collection.

A separate entrance to the house, specifically used by Leighton’s models, is also revealed.

David Artis, Architect Director at BDP, said: “This project will have a transformative effect on the museum, allowing it to be accessible to all for the first time, and provide excellent visitor and collection care facilities.

"This refurbishment supports the museum’s ambitions to safeguard and preserve the integrity of the original house while meeting the needs of new audiences and cementing it as a unique asset for the borough.

"Leighton House is one of London’s great houses and we are very much looking forward to seeing it re-open to the public at a time when such places are needed more than ever.”

Leighton House reopened its doors to visitors in tandem with its sister museum, Sambourne House – a virtually unaltered Victorian terraced house nearby that provides a window into the art and society of the era.

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