Fundraising aims to conserve historic artworks.
Edward Burne-Jones’ The Star of Bethlehem is the world’s largest watercolour, and it has been on display at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for 130 years. Its fragile glazing needs replacing, and the painting requires careful assessment and conservation. Measuring approximately 8ft by 12ft, The Star of Bethlehem has not moved in decades and due to the fragile, thin original Victorian glazing the painting cannot be inspected, conserved or redisplayed due to a high risk of the glazing shattering and damaging the art.
The delicate Holy Grail tapestries, also designed by Edward Burne-Jones with John Henry Dearle and William Morris are at serious risk of weakening and tearing. All six tapestries were last on display in 2015 but they are now carefully stored away to safeguard them. They are one of the outstanding achievements of the Arts and Crafts movement, and the most extensive decorative scheme that the firm of Morris & Co. completed. To protect them conservation needs to be undertaken by specialists to clean and reline the tapestries.
Rachel Cockett, Director of Development at Birmingham Museums Trust said: “We hope people will support this worthwhile project, to protect two of Birmingham’s well-loved treasures, by contributing to our conservation appeal.
“It’s incredible to think that Edward Burne-Jones’ The Star of Bethlehem has been on display at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery for 130 years – this monumental artwork, along with the Holy Grail Tapestries, have an important place in the history of British art as well as being stars of Birmingham’s collection. This vital fundraising campaign will ensure that they can be enjoyed by thousands of visitors for many years to come.”
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is home to the world’s largest collection of art and design by the Pre-Raphaelites and their associates. The museum and art gallery is currently closed for major electrical works, but Birmingham Museums Trust continues to care for these important collections so that visitors can enjoy them in the best possible condition when the museum fully reopens.
Birmingham Museums’ Conservation Appeal has already secured £39,000 from The Pilgrim Trust, The Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and Tru Vue towards the total cost of £120,000 needed to conserve both artworks. It is hoped the remaining amount will be raised through trusts and foundations.
You can support the conservation of these two fabulous artworks from Birmingham’s collections here.