Garden Museum to re-open after £7.5m lottery revamp

The Garden Museum is opening on 22 May, after the completion of an 18-month, £7.5m Lottery-funded re-development project.

Dan Pearson courtyard garden
Dan Pearson courtyard garden
Museum director Christopher Woodward said: "This project, supported by the National Lottery has enabled us to put our collection on display for the first time. The ancient church of St Mary’s has been restored, and inside our architects have built a playful, surprising wooden structure which contains seven new galleries. Outside we have built a bronze extension to frame a new garden by Dan Pearson. It is a modern Museum in a very ancient place. But we also hope it is a happy, quiet place to just come and be."

Heritage Lottery Fund London head Stuart Hobley said: "The Garden Museum has truly flowered into something exceptional! Set in the beautiful, restored and reinvigorated ancient church of St Mary’s, the Museum is home to extraordinary collections which chronicle our love of gardening. From window box to greenhouse; so many of us enjoy watching our gardens grow and now, thanks to National Lottery players, we can all celebrate the history of our horticultural passion."

The design includes the new courtyard extension, built without foundations because of the 20,000 bodies buried on the site, some dating back to before the Norman Conquest.  

There is a 14th century tower which is opening to the public for the first time, as well as The Ark Gallery, a recreation of the Tradescants’ 17th century cabinet of curiosities.  

The museum building itself is housed in the deconsecrated church of St Mary’s-at-Lambeth, where plant hunter John Tradescant is buried. Some of these objects are returning to London for the first time as a loan from the Ashmolean Museum. 

Exhibitions in 2018 include the flower and garden paintings of Cedric Morris, and a retrospective of the landscape gardener Humphry Repton.

A new garden is in the courtyard, designed by Dan Pearson as an ‘Eden’ of rare plants, the garden reflects the Tradescants’ love of unusual plants.

With the opening of the museum, the Garden Museum is unveiling the country’s first archive of garden design, with records of John Brookes, Beth Chatto and Penelope Hobhouse and the photographic archive of Andrew Lawson. 

There is a video at https://player.vimeo.com/video/167872565


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