The Lady Lever Art Gallery’s world renowned Wedgwood collection has gone on display in Moscow, attracting more than 10,000 visitors in just four weeks.
It is the first time that the unrivalled collection has ever travelled abroad, with 140 items travelling to the Russian capital.
The collection is on show at the All-Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art as part of the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014.
Objects from the world’s finest group of Wedgwood jasperware are on display, including a rare copy of the celebrated Portland Vase and the largest jasperware panel ever produced. Two rare enamel plaques painted by artist George Stubbs also feature.
A major development project currently underway in the Lady Lever’s South End galleries has provided the opportunity to tour the collection, which will return ahead of the opening of the improved galleries in 2016.
Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said:
“It is exciting to have the opportunity to showcase our fantastic collection on an international stage and highlight the world-class quality of the objects in our gallery.
“This is one of the largest loans that we have ever made and required a great deal of planning. It is a testament to the hard work of our staff and our Russian colleagues over many months that we have been able to deliver it so successfully.
“We look forward to welcoming the collection back to the Lady Lever in time for the opening of the new South End galleries in 2016. These amazing objects will be beautifully redisplayed in the improved Wedgwood rooms.”
The UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014 has seen the British Council present a comprehensive programme of events and projects in Russia drawn from across the UK. The programme represents the creative industries as well as science, education and language.
The exhibition, titled Unrivalled Wedgwood, will be displayed at the Moscow museum until February 2015.
Elena Titova, Director at the All-Russian Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art, said:
“We are delighted to welcome this outstanding collection to the museum during the UK-Russia Year of Culture. To this day, Wedgwood is a manifestation of impeccable taste and artistic quality.
“Marketing techniques, logistic developments and technologies used by Wedgwood were ahead of their time and had an enormous effect on the world’s applied arts design, architectural and interior decoration.”
The Wedgwood collection was amassed by William Hesketh Lever (1851-1955) in 1905. Lever was a philanthropist and business man who built Port Sunlight village, Wirral, to house workers from his nearby soap factory.
Lever’s business would eventually become the global brand Unilever, and fittingly the exhibition is sponsored by Unilever Russia.
Lever was a keen art collector and built the Lady Lever Art Gallery, which opened in 1922, to share his collection with the public. It now houses one of the UK’s greatest collections of fine and decorative art.
The Gallery has recently received a significant Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1.2m to go towards a stunning redisplay of more than 1,500 items of fine and decorative art, including the Wedgwood collection which is displayed across two rooms.
The grant will also go towards returning the Lady Lever’s South End galleries to their former Edwardian glory. The restoration encompasses 500 square metres of gallery space – a revamp of more than a quarter of the venue.
The entire project will cost £2.8m, with additional funding through major grants, donations and corporate sponsorship.
Lady Lever Art Gallery facts:
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players' money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. www.hlf.org.uk
About National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues, including some of the most visited museums in England outside of London. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.
We attract more than 2.7 million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Border Force National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.