The Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle's Yard
Cambridge has the privilege of hosting two remarkable Collections, each very different and yet both emblematic of British cultural heritage, and cherished public institutions.
The Fitzwilliam Museum is one of the great glories of the University of Cambridge. Described as 'one of the greatest art collections of the nation and a monument of the first importance', its world-class collections of art and antiquities span centuries and civilisations.
Kettle's Yard, founded in 1957 by Jim Ede – the Tate Gallery's first modern art curator – is the embodiment of art as a way of life. Through acclaimed exhibitions and an intensive programme of educational activities, it exposes its visitors to a vivid range of experience that encompasses music as well as visual art.
Here are some of the many ways in which your support can help people to find meaning through the beautiful and the extraordinary.
One of the country's most remarkable collections of modern art is housed in one of the country's most remarkable artistic spaces: Kettle's Yard. Now undergoing building work to create a beautiful and boldly conceived extended space, Kettle's Yard seeks support for an ambitious artistic and musical programme to launch in 2014.
Originally the home of Jim Ede, Kettle's Yard House provides a stunning environment for work by such artists as Nicholson, Hepworth, Miro, Gaudier-Brzeska and Brancusi, combined with objects from the worlds of nature and of the imagination. In 1970, the addition of a new gallery for special exhibitions led to a substantial growth in attendance. Today, thanks to philanthropic and Heritage Lottery Fund support, the gallery is being extended to form a new complex (which offers a limited number of naming opportunities). Designed by award-winning architect Jamie Fobert, it will facilitate exhibitions, research activity and concert series that break down boundaries – between artistic forms; between scholarship and performance; between audience and artist; and between art as objects of wonder, and art as a way of life.
Kettle's Yard grew out of one man's deeply-held belief that art is too important to be a privilege of the few. Today, this conviction is enshrined in a thriving and highly-regarded public education and outreach programme. Activities range from 'Creative Chaos' sessions to explorations of the arcane alchemy between geometry and art, and cater for artists and art-lovers aged 4 to 94 (and beyond). Philanthropic support for an Assistant Education Officer will enable the University, through Kettle's Yard, to forge new partnerships with community organisations; harness the tremendous goodwill towards Kettle's Yard that exists among students, staff and community volunteers; and scale up Kettle's Yard outstanding public education and outreach provision.
From the blazing energy of Howard Hodgkin's paintings, the secret, inner world of Vermeer's women, to the rich spectacle of ancient royal tomb treasures from China, special exhibitions at the Fitzwilliam Museum are internationally recognised both for their stunning visual impact and original contributions to knowledge. They attract not only large national audiences but new ones, exposing people to the encyclopaedic riches of "the finest small museum in Europe". Ahead of its bicentenary in 2016, the Museum is launching a major campaign of expansion and gallery refurbishment. Funding to support this campaign, and to endow key curatorial posts including that of the Museum's Director, will have an immense impact on the Fitzwilliam's ability to inspire, in people of all ages, a thirst for beauty and a sense of wonder.
Skilled conservators are in increasingly short supply nationally, yet without them, we cannot safeguard our cultural heritage. The Hamilton Kerr Institute, the Museum's renowned painting conservation department and postgraduate education centre, is acknowledged as one of the world's leading centre in this field. Its alumni hold prominent conservatorial positions at institutions such as the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art in New York, and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The Institute needs more space for conservation teaching and training, accessible storage of important conservation archives, and the provision of a fully climate-controlled environment for treating panel paintings. Plans are well advanced to develop this facility on the footprint of old outbuildings adjoining the main institute, for which funding is now sought.
A naming opportunity also exists to create an endowment to support the Institute's Research Scientist. This role oversees the research strategy of the Institute, supervises doctoral researchers and students on the three-year postgraduate course, and provides essential technical analysis and advice to the conservators, as well as undertaking original research on artists' materials and methods.
The Fitzwilliam's education programmes are internationally renowned for their excellence. They provide stimulating activities and events for people of all ages from pre-school to third age and, through partnerships with health and social care professionals, include work on- and off-site with vulnerable adults, including those with mental health problems (30,000 people in 2011/12). The service for schools, which works with the University Faculty of Education, is highly regarded for its innovative approach to the use of collections and exhibitions in engaging students across the school curriculum to learn and achieve. There are currently eight teaching members of the Education Department. To ensure the continuation of their essential work we offer an opportunity to fund some of the posts, to enable them to continue to engage as broad a range of school audiences with the Fitzwilliam's collection. The cost of transport is often a deterrent for school visits from areas of deprivation, and a financial contribution to fund the transport for these groups would be especially welcome.
A museum collection of beauty, quality and rarity...
Mark Fisher on the Fitzwilliam Museum, Britain's Best Museums and Galleries
As a student at Cambridge, I found my way to Kettle's Yard... For the first time I began to appreciate that works of art... had a physical presence which could charge the space around them.
Sir Nicholas Serota in his Richard Dimbleby Lecture, BBC, 2000
We're not sticking to safe subjects, we're striking out into new territory and we're being a little controversial – exactly as a university museum should do.
Dr Timothy Potts, Director, Fitzwilliam Museum