Recent news and exciting developments.
Exciting discovery in the making of the new Learning Centre
A central element of the Hidden Gem to National Treasure developments at Leighton House is the transformation of the existing historic lower ground floor into a Learning Centre. This space, that once housed rooms such as the kitchen, cold store, wine cellar, pantry and butler’s bedroom, will support a rich and varied programme for participants of all ages and interests, linked to a newly created learning area in the garden.
Although equipped to a high, contemporary standard, the Learning Centre will retain original features such as flagstone flooring and the colour scheme, creating a unique and evocative space. One of those features has been uncovered recently during building works – a window in the butler’s pantry, from where Mr Kemp would have kept a beady, observant eye on the comings and goings of the household, as well as visiting trades and deliveries.
By opening up the basement, we will be able to tell the largely untold stories of the household staff who lived separate but alongside Leighton, maintaining his home both whilst he was in residence and when he left to travel extensively for extended periods away.
The new Learning Centre at Leighton House is made possible with the National Lottery Heritage Fund
The museums launch their new branding
The museums' new brand identity was launched in September. Our redesigned logo presents two interconnected blocks, suggesting architectural forms injected with bold colours reminiscent of the vibrant palette in Leighton's and Sambourne's house interiors. The bespoke typeface combines straight lines with quirky, irregular traces that are inspired by late 1800s calligraphy styles.
But this isn't just a 'new look' - the museums have undergone a profound transformation that will manifest through our reimagined vision and the core museums' mission. Both Leighton House and Sambourne House appear now unified in the same creative universe, whilst retaining their unique characters and identities that reflect Leighton's and Sambourne's distinct personalities.
Our vision is to widen appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of Victorian art, architecture and history;
their contemporary relevance made apparent and meaningful.
Hidden Gem to National Treasure: Project updates
This major redevelopment at Leighton House is one of our most ambitious and challenging projects yet. It will bring a years-in-the-making transformation of the historic house, thanks to new visitor facilities and gallery spaces.
Exciting progress has taken place this summer, with the completion of our much-awaited new helical staircase, the restoration and redecoration of the Winter Studio and the recently approved designs for the fit out of the Learning Centre spaces. Besides, our curatorial team and expert consultants are carrying out various projects to restore, enhance and expand our collections.
Hidden Gem to National Treasure will end with a grand reopening in the spring next year - keep an eye on our channels as we are revealing reopening dates in the autumn.
Art Happens rewards and Oneness news
Last year, Leighton House successfully run an Art Happens crowdfunding campaign, supported by Art Fund. Over £26,000 was raised to help create Oneness, thanks to the generosity of hundreds of donors worldwide.
Oneness, an 11-metre high mural by Iranian artist Shahrzad Ghaffari, is the first contemporary artwork that will be on permanent display in the redeveloped wing, currently being transformed as part of the Hidden Gem to National Treasure project.
Supporters of the campaign had the chance to get exclusive rewards in return for their donations, all inspired by the collections at Leighton House and Oneness itself. Many of the rewards, including fabulous totes, plates, prints and postcards, have already reached donors, and the final ones will be sent once Shahrzad is in London.
As for the unveiling of Oneness, we are finalising plans to welcome Shahrzad onsite so that she can start working on the walls of the helical staircase, which has recently been completed. We look forward to sharing this spectacular piece with you all upon reopening in the spring of next year.