Abbey Art Centre

Art Gallery

The Abbey Art Centre collection came to the museum initially on loan in 1953. This collection came from a number of orginal collections including those belonging to FM 'Eric' Bailey, Col Vance and Father J S M Ward, who opened the Abbey Folk Park, New Barnet. Geoffrey Gin descirbes it as, 'The Abbey Folk Park, a large and eclectic collection of antiquities, religious relics, artworks and historical curiosities assembled by Father John Ward (1885-1949) across an avid collecting career, opened in New Barnet, north London in June 1934 and closed with the onset of the Blitz six years later' (Ginn 2010: 129).The abbey and its associated buildings were then bought by William Ohly, a sculptor and the Director of The Berkeley Galleries in Mayfair, for the purpose of housing an art gallery and museum. Ohly had also purchased Father Ward’s Tibetan collections, which were displayed in the Abbey Art Centre Museum.

See Geoffrey A. C. Ginn, 'An Ark for England: Esoteric heritage at J. S. M. Ward’s Abbey Folk Park, 1934-1940', in Journal of the History of Collections vol. 22 no. 1 (2010) pp. 129–140, which gives a full and very interesting account of Ward and the Abbey Folk Park.
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