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Painted UK Hall Reopens after $11M Renovation

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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After a two-year conservation project, the Greenwich Painted Hall, dubbed by some as the “Sistine Chapel of the U.K.,” is reopening its doors to the public.

Located in the 17th century Old Royal Naval College, The Painted Hall features baroque decorative paintings and fresco-covered ceilings.

Chapel History

Inside the “chapel,” painted artwork covers nearly 40,000 square feet of walls and ceilings. The project was designed for Sir Christopher Wren to serve as a ceremonial dining room. British artist James Thornhill started the project in 1707 and finished in 1726.

Centuries later, in 2016, efforts began to help clean and safeguard the artwork. This process then led to the creation of a team, funded by the National Lottery, to continue restoration efforts. As part of an open-access scheme, over 80,000 people visited the site during the conservation project.

By the end, the total restoration had cost 8.5 million pounds ($11 million).

The Reopening

Conservation director Will Palin has stated that the unveiling process has left him feeling quite emotional.

“It was very nerve-racking when the scaffolding first came down because there was this moment of would it look any different from when we started.”

But, once the scaffolding was taken down, the work—which illustrates English naval prowess, monarchs and mythological figures—proved to be much cleaner and with lost paint flakes restored.

The reopening was part of a wider transformation of the Old Royal Naval College by Hugh Broughton Architects, with conservation advice from Martin Ashley Architects. The college also reopened the vaulted King William Undercroft, which lies beneath the room, as well as a new cafe, shop and gallery.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Completed projects; Design - Commercial; EU; Europe; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; Performance Halls; Preservation; Project Management; Renovation

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