Restoring 'the UK's Sistine Chapel'

August 15 2016

Video: Art Fund

The Art Fund has launched a campaign to raise £21,500 to help restore a part of the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich:

Called 'the Sistine Chapel of the UK', the Painted Hall is one of the finest Baroque interiors in Europe. Its centrepiece – the proscenium arch – has endured 50 years of dirt and grime and we need your help to preserve it. With the funds you donate, we’ll be able to do the painstaking conservation work needed to make this unique treasure shine once more.

There are various 'rewards' on offer, including for a donation of £995 the chance to climb the scaffolding and see the conservation work on offer.

That said, £21,500 doesn't buy you a lot of restoration, especially when it involves gilding. If I was to ask my frame restorer to clean and regild a standard 30 x 25 inch 18th Century frame, for example, it would cost about £2,500. Add in the cost of making the above film (with a drone) and all those rewards, and the change left over from the campaign is probably enough to regild a dew finials. But as the Art Fund's page states:

This project is one part of a wider £7million conservation plan to restore the Painted Hall at Old Royal Naval College.

So that's all good, but it is interesting to see how the Art Fund capitalises - in terms of marketing - on far larger donations made by bodies like the Heritage Lottery Fund. Here, for example, is how The Guardian reported the news.

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