Although the Wallace is traditionally considered to be a closed collection, the terms of Lady Wallaces bequest do not expressly forbid lending or borrowing. Sir Richard Wallace himself loaned works extensively to other institutions in Paris and London, notably the Royal Academy and the Bethnal Green museum. The conclusion reached by the Trustees and the Director is that temporary loans would not be going against the bequest and this would be entirely in keeping with Sir Richards desire to share great art with the widest possible audience.
As the Wallace Collection
resides in Sir Richard Wallaces original home at Hertford House, Manchester Square, in central London, each loan request will be considered extremely carefully in order to minimise disturbance to its unique environment. Owing to these restrictions, the Wallace Collection will only be able to enter into loan agreements under very special circumstances.
The decision to lend works on a temporary basis will enable the Wallace Collection to develop exciting new collaborations with museums across the UK and internationally, expanding public access to the museums exceptional collection and encouraging new audiences to engage with its treasures. It will also provide exciting opportunities for scholarly research and enable the museum to remain a centre of curatorial excellence.
António Horta-Osório, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, says: This is a hugely significant moment in the history of the Wallace Collection and is the result of careful deliberations by the Board. Our successful programme of ground-breaking exhibitions, in which our own masterpieces are showcased alongside related treasures from elsewhere, can now be complemented by an ability to lend our works to other great collections. This allows us to develop new collaborations at home and internationally, and will mean that the treasures of the Wallace Collection will be shared with an even greater audience. It represents a new chapter in the museums history and will ensure that the Wallace Collection continues to flourish and remains relevant for generations to come.
Dr Xavier Bray, Director of the Wallace Collection, says: I am thrilled we are announcing that the Wallace Collection will now be able to lend works of art. This is a transformative moment for the museum which will enable us to deepen our understanding of the Collection and play a wider role within the international art historical community. This is not a decision that has been taken lightly by the Board, mindful as we are that the Wallace Collection is loved by the public for being an intimate house museum. However, in order to share our collection with the widest possible audience we believe that it is the right next step for the Wallace Collection and we look forward to expanding our horizons in accordance with the scale of the museum.