The Queen of England’s inaccessible art collection


The Queen’s Gallery, which adjoins Buckingham Palace, features rotating exhibits of the Royal Collection, the vast collection of art and furniture “owned” by the Crown. After a hiatus due to Covid, his current exhibition ‘Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace’ resumes until January 2022. Critics have consistently praised the superfluous quality and quantity of the treasures: Waldemar Januszczak describes the exhibition as a ‘cornucopia Royale ”of the finest European art amassed by British monarchs, notably George IV during a spending frenzy during the Napoleonic era. Still, we owe this rare opportunity to tour such a wide range of the Royal Collection to the closure of the photo gallery where they usually hang, as Buckingham Palace undergoes a 10-year renovation. The glaring absurdity here is the sheer inaccessibility of the collection the rest of the time – and even after the exhibition ends – with Buckingham Palace which can only be visited between July and October and costs a single adult $ 60. £ exorbitant for entry. In comparison, one can visit the collection of the Royal Palace in Madrid for 12EUR.

Unlike the usual exhibit, the exhibit offers the opportunity to view the works at eye level in a modern gallery format that allows for proper reading, as opposed to being double stacked and hung as if the paintings were no longer part of the furniture. as individual works of art. . When in the palace, they “make a grand and splendid ornamental impact,” as curator Desmond Shawe-Taylor claims in a Facebook video. Their usual function in situ is to provide an awe-inspiring backdrop for diplomatic and special visits, surely forming the richest historical art wallpaper in existence.

The Royal Collection is managed by the Royal Collection Trust, whose function states that it ensures that “as much of the Royal Collection as possible can be viewed by members of the public”, and “Access to the Royal Collection is extended, in person, in print and online, and augmented to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy the Collection. ”All of these barriers – limited availability throughout the year, prohibitive entry fee, little or no publicity and display arrangements less to examine art than to convey overall decorative impact – undermine the supposed goal of increasing and expanding access for fun. The incongruity is magnified by hyperbolic reviews accompanying the exhibition where the public can actually see the work, so the public is forced to attend this show before it is dismantled.

Old Masters paintings have been removed from the Picture Gallery at Buckingham Palace for the first time in nearly 45 years for a historic exhibition

Unlike UK public galleries, which became free to enter in 2001, the Royal Collection Trust is a charity and relies on exhibition and trade fees to support itself. The Royal Collection includes nearly a million objects spread across the Royal Palaces of the United Kingdom, of which Buckingham Palace is a location. It is described as a private collection, held in trust by the Monarch in the Head of the Crown, Elizabeth II personally owning certain items, some of which were left to her by the Queen Mother. As such, what exactly the public is entitled to access is obscure. The renovation itself is funded by an increase in the Sovereign Grant from 15 to 25% over the course of the project, an amount decided by the treasury and taken from the profits of the Crown Estate, separate from the Royal Collection Trust. However, the general cost of maintaining the occupied royal palaces, which are held in trust for the nation and not the property of the Queen, is borne by the taxpayer. So, with the combination of the public entrance fees paid to royal palaces contributing to the Collection Trust and the public upkeep of other royal palaces, it seems unfair that the “largest” segment of the Royal Collection – according to the site Buckingham Palace Web – Should be so relatively difficult for the public to access.

Covid has ravaged the vaults of the Royal Collection, and since the show opened, its curator and surveyor of images of Queen Shawe-Taylor has fired the post which was first created in 1625 and which should not be not be renewed. To keep its promise to increase accessibility for the public, and to increase the number of visitors (and therefore income), the trust may well promote its “biggest” collection, outside of the months of been prescribed. For now, take the opportunity to see this incredible, affordable (£ 16) collection before it goes back out of sight (and out of your pocket).

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