Emma Gilbertson shares her discoveries on the history of patronage that is fundamental to our collections, museums and galleries.
"One of the things I’ve learned during my time at National Museums Liverpool is that it is full of stories about collectors, benefactors and patrons. They have shaped both the buildings we are housed in, and our collections which are some of the best in the world.
If you have visited our 'Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion' exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, you may have come across the Liverpool-based merchant John Miller, a significant patron of the movement. An avid collector, Miller reputedly bought so much art that he didn’t have enough hanging space for it all. He supported many Pre-Raphaelite artists including Ford Madox Brown and John Everett Millais.
The Walker Art Gallery itself was the result of a very generous philanthropic act. It is named after benefactor Andrew Barclay Walker, a brewer and alderman, who funded the building of the gallery in the 1870s, and later an extension, to commemorate his time as mayor of the city. This generosity may have also acted as a shrewd PR exercise for the alcohol industry at a time when temperance was popular. Whatever the real motive behind his patronage, I am sure you will agree, the resulting gallery is positive outcome.
Patronage in one form or another has always been important to the art world, whether by supporting emerging and established artists, or enabling art to be shared with a wider audience. Patrons have therefore long played a vital role in museums and galleries, and they still do so in the present day.
Patrons are invited to exhibition previews
Today we run a patrons scheme which enables supporters to get closer to our museums, galleries and collections. The support we receive from our patrons is hugely valued and contributes to our culturally important work, whether that’s conserving our objects for future generations, supporting our education programme, or putting on special exhibitions.
We have three tiers of support, in return for which, patrons receive a variety of benefits including exhibition previews and acknowledgement in our publications. In addition, patrons receive free entry to Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion for themselves and a guest, and can visit as many times as they like for the duration of the exhibition."
You can find out more about becoming a patron on our website or by contacting Emma Gilbertson, on 0151 478 4995.