Kew's Marianne North Gallery re-opens 11th October 2009

marianne north galleryThe restored Marianne North Gallery re-opens with a special day-long community celebration, filled with dance, food, and guided tours – an autumnal highlight in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s 250th anniversary year. A hidden gem in Kew Gardens’ 300 acre site, the Gallery and its paintings are being renovated and conserved, safeguarding their rich heritage for the future.

painting of large white flowers by marianne northBrimming with 833 vibrant paintings, this purpose-built Gallery, designed by renowned architectural historian, James Ferguson, is the only gallery in the UK where all the work on display was produced by one female artist. An intrepid Victorian botanical artist, Marianne North travelled around the world to 15 countries, where in search of rare, exotic and beautiful plants, she documented over 900 plant species in her unique style.

Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said: “The Marianne North Gallery is one of the unique treasures at Kew and I am delighted that this stunning building and its rich collection are being renovated, refreshed and conserved as a highlight in our 250th anniversary year. With the two-year restoration project well underway, the legacy of this remarkable woman is being preserved as she would have remembered it, for future generations to enjoy.”

painting of oli palms in brazil by marianne northDonating her life’s work to Kew Gardens in 1882, her botanical and landscape paintings hang today like a vast patchwork quilt, frame to frame. These are not only beautiful and part of Kew’s rich history and heritage, but also important to plant science and conservation. They provide a unique snapshot of the world’s flora and fauna over 100 years ago, documenting species and areas of the natural world now threatened.

In June 2008, RBG Kew was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £1,867,000, towards the total cost of £3.7 million; kickstarting the two year conservation project which began in July 2008.

Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: "This tremendous body of work reflects both the tenacity and the talents of this amazing woman who trekked across the globe in order to find her subjects, creating a unique botanical record from the Victorian era. Now, displayed in the beauty of their original setting, they present a scientific, artistic and historical marvel that provides an extra dimension to a visit to Kew."