Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, birthplace and home of the renowned artist Thomas Gainsborough, has received Heritage Lottery Fund support of £4.73 million.
The figure includes a development grant of £280,700, towards a £7.5 million project to transform the house into a national centre and one of the region’s leading heritage museum and galleries.
Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, said: “Drawing on the history of Gainsborough’s weaving family, we will tell for the first time the story of wool and silk weaving in Sudbury.
“By creating significant exhibition spaces and increasing the heritage offer, the project will attract more visitors, create financial resilience and promote the exploration of the surrounding landscape so inspirational to Gainsborough and Constable, whose family collection we will display.”
Gainsborough’s House is one of the few birthplace museums to feature the work of a single artist, and shows more of the artist’s work than any other gallery in the world.
Now, thanks to National Lottery players, the ‘Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace: A National Centre for Gainsborough’ project will enable staff at Gainsborough’s House to attempt to engage and inspire a larger and more diverse range of visitors.
It is also believed the funding could secure the future of the museum, gallery and important heritage site and spearhead the regeneration of the town - the museum seen as a conerstone for the development of tourism in the town and surrounding area.
As well as safeguarding Gainsborough’s Grade I childhood home and garden; access to the most comprehensive collection of his art will be improved, while it will be able to display more works in a new showcase gallery and explore his life during his time in the house.
Television presenter, entrepreneur, writer and broadcaster Loyd Grossman CBE, FSA, who backed the bid for lottery funding, said: “I believe that Gainsborough’s House has great potential as a centre for the study of 18th century art, as an educational resource for children, as a resource for local artists – especially printmakers – and as a contributor to the tourist economy of Sudbury and Suffolk.”
Robyn Llewellyn, head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, added: “This project is a wonderful opportunity to share Gainsborough’s internationally significant art and history, alongside more local stories of his family and town industry of silk making, with so many more people.
“The project will create a major national cultural destination and it’s great to see the links with the wonderful surrounding landscape that inspired Gainsborough, as well as Constable.
“The way young people, volunteers and the local community are involved is particularly exciting.”