Sad news: Museum closure

I've just had confirmation of the very sad news that the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art will be closing at the end of this year. However, the collection will be passing complete to the British Museum and will be displayed in a new gallery from next year.

Please do take the opportunity to make a visit to the PDF if you get a chance to before it closes (there's likely to be limited access from August). It is, is some ways, for me the perfect museum.* Far from being dusty and dark, the building in which the collection is housed (a Georgian town house in Bloomsbury) is light and airy. I have fond memories of the sun streaming through the windows and infusing the galleries with light (I worked there as Curatorial Assistant from October 2000 to December 2001) at the end of the day. As a result there was a real sense of contemplative calm throughout. Not a hushed reference as such, more an atmosphere of breath-taking wonderment. The ceramics on display were far from dead - they positively radiated their histories. The overall affect is stunning. But, perhaps I'm biased. ;)

*However, social inclusion-ists (is that a word?!) might disagree. There is very little interpretive material in the galleries (although interactive information points and a gallery tour were introduced while I was working there). It needs to be remembered that the collection was intended to be a resource for students and scholars of Chinese ceramics and, I believe, the method of display may have have been written into the bequest. Indeed, the founder - Sir Percival David - instructed that every object in the collection must be on display - or available - at all times, which has got to make it a fairly unusual and unique collection from that perspective. As such, the PDF represents an opportunity to experience an 'unreconstructed' University museum essentially dating from the 1950s, arranged in a scheme that has roots in the new scholarship of Chinese ceramics (and art) developed by individuals like Percival David in the 1920s and 1930s.

And, apart from all that, as - arguably - the best collection of Chinese ceramics (of Imperial taste) outside China and Taiwan, featuring many examples of rare and ancient vessels, some of which were purchased by David direct from the Imperial collections, the PDF offers a unique opportunity. Take it before it's too late! Lots of places are touted as 'hidden treasures', but this is the real thing.


aj said…
I'll really miss this little gem of a museum. I used to try and visit it every time I came up to London. I'm no specialist, but that didn't matter - it was full of delights.

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