The Synergistic Relationship Between Architecture and Art, Part II

The synergistic relationship between architecture and art is a fascinating area, exploring how one affect and complement each other. My previous article, The Synergistic Relationship Between Architecture and Art was focused through the lens of an architect - what an architect would consider when designing spaces that hold art. In this article, we have the opportunity to speak with experts in designing exhibitions and caring for art collections from The Wallace Collection, London, United Kingdom. The Wallace Collection is a museum in Marylebone, London founded in 1897 with a large private art collection from paintings, sculptures, furniture, and armours.

Joining this interview to share their insights are Yunsun Choi (Head of Collection Care at The Wallace Collection), Clare Simpson (Head of Exhibitions at The Wallace Collection), and Dr Yuriko Jackall (Curator of French Paintings at The Wallace Collection).

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Image of The Great Gallery, hailed as 'the greatest picture gallery in Europe' at The Wallace Collection, London. By Von Chua.

Von Chua:

Can you tell us briefly about the program and collection at The Wallace Collection?

Yunsun Choi:

We have quite a comprehensive, eclectic decorative arts, master paintings, arms and armours, so we have almost everything in our galleries. My understanding is that 97% of our collection is on display, so in terms of our program of our exhibition space, from time to time there are changes of display, but apart from that, the collection remains within The Wallace Collection. We don’t have acquisitions either.

Von Chua:

Interesting, I didn’t know such a large number of the collection is always on display.

Yunsun Choi:

It is one of the rarest thing because if you look at other museums like Victoria & Albert Museum displays about 25% of their collection, Tate displays about 40% of their collection, British Museum displays about 5% of their collection. So if you’re actually looking at that side of it, for The Wallace Collection, it is a huge amount of items that are on display.

Dr Yuriko Jackall:

It’s not an institutional philosophy that it has to be on display. And probably if we had the opportunity, we would choose to take more things off the display in order to attend to them more from a conservation perspective, but also, to be able to play a little bit more about changing installations within permanent collection spaces, similar to what we’re now able to do in the temporary exhibition galleries.

Clare Simpson:

We built a newly refurbished exhibition space in our lower ground floor, opened in June 2018, that’s our new exhibition offer. We’re really trying to go in with main stage, international loaned exhibitions programme, launching a big, rolling, temporary exhibitions. Before that, we had a small temporary exhibition space, but it was an opportunist space that we use depending on opportunities rather than having a big, national museum back offer. And that’s really opened up a lot of different possibilities in terms of what our programme looks like, who it’s for in terms of our audiences, and other kinds of smaller display opportunities within the collection. So we have our current collection space and our temporary exhibitions space. And where those two space meets, in terms of other opportunities within the permanent collection, to do spotlight focus within, or do re-hangs within the main decorative scheme.

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