Posted 17th February 2012
Watts Contemporary Gallery
There are different experiences which remind us how far Watts Gallery has travelled since its pre-restoration days. One of these was the opening of the Hall of Fame exhibition. It is astonishing, wonderful and a real treat to see these Watts masterpieces, normally seen on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery or in private collections, now in the Watts Gallery Exhibitions Gallery, so close at hand and so strong in their impact. Visitors can enjoy an encounter with Tennyson, Millais, Browning, Gladstone, William Morris, Leighton and many more at such close quarters and in the Gallery founded by the creator of these great portraits. This would not have been possible before the restoration. The fact that the Gallery is now accredited and meets the standard for the government indemnity scheme, allows Watts Gallery visitors to see the very best of the Watts collections from across the world. We are so grateful to Richard and Leonée Ormond, Chairman and Trustee of Watts Gallery, and long-term supporters and donors to the Gallery, for giving so much of their time and expertise to curate this great exhibition.
The other striking reminder of how far we have travelled was recently experienced during the snow, when the heating failed. Working with our coats on and warming the stewards with endless cups of tea, was a throw back to the old times. How delightful it is that the Gallery normally is warm and welcoming.
We feel honoured and excited that The Art Fund judges have chosen Watts Gallery as one of the eminent selection of museums and galleries on the long list for the Museum of the Year Award. This is a tribute to all those who have worked so hard to bring this hidden gem back to life. The opportunity to gain more awareness and therefore more support can only help us in our efforts to provide art for all and enable more people to share in Watts’s belief of the transformational impact of art. We urge everyone who believes in securing the future of the Gallery to express their views on the Art Fund website and give reasons why Watts Gallery should go forward to the short list. Thank you.