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Museum launches £500,000 appeal

PUBLISHED: 04:56 03 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

A £500,000 appeal to consolidate the future of the home of one of the region's world-famous painters has been officially launched at a reception in Suffolk.

A £500,000 appeal to consolidate the future of the home of one of the region's world-famous painters has been officially launched at a reception in Suffolk.

More than 200 guests have been told of the new vision for Gainsborough's House in Sudbury, which has the world's largest collection of works by the famous 18th Century painter.

Speaking at the launch, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, said the appeal was the most important event since the premises was bought by public subscription.

He continued: "The scheme will provide wonderful new space and serve arts educational needs for this part of England, and also finance the overdue refurbishment of the house to a standard fit for its remarkable collection.

"Gainsborough was born in Sudbury. He grew up here and was shaped by what he saw, learned and experienced. He was a great illustrator of character in his paintings. His warmth, insight and character still shines through his canvasses."

Lord Phillips, a member of the appeal committee, said the local appeal coincided with a national launch at Agnew's gallery in London, which was featuring a "stunning exhibition" of works from Gainsborough's House until February 21.

Work has already begun at Sudbury on spending an initial £200,000 raised prior to the official opening of the appeal, and involves the conversion of two cottages at the rear of the home.

A further £50,000 is required to equip the premises as a gallery coffee shop, which will also be available for community purposes. The café will open up into the garden of the house, and the first floor is being be developed as an educational centre and for expansion of art courses, in association with those already run at the museum's print workshop.

Work on the first phase is expected to be complete for an opening in eight months' time.

Another £200,000 is required to carry out major refurbishment of the main house, which was acquired 40 years ago by Gainsborough's House Society, which now has the backing of an 800-strong supporting group of fee paying friends.

In addition to providing extra display space and access for the disabled, the work will include installation of new lighting and environmental controls to ensure the preservation of the 2,000-strong collection held by the museum.

Finally, money will be spent on setting up an educational fund to support temporary exhibition at the gallery, and create educational resource packs for use in schools and colleges in the region.

In addition to the new appeal, the house is seeking to obtain sponsorship to enable it to recruit a full-time educational outreach officer.


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