Art lovers have the chance to view a masterpiece from the National Gallery’s collection at the Carmarthenshire Museum, as it reopens to visitors after an initial phase of restoration work.
It will be the first time the museum has been open to the public since 2020, when it closed for the first phase of improvements, funded by Carmarthenshire County Council.
Visitors will be able to travel from Saturday to see Jean-Siméon Chardin’s ‘House of Cards’, a painting from the National Gallery’s collection of masterpieces, which was painted by the 18th-century French artist century around 1740-1741.
The Carmarthenshire Museum has been chosen by the National Gallery as one of only three museums in the UK to display part of its collection.
The museum, in Abergwili, is reopening after the completion of the first phase of restoration by Carmarthenshire County Council, which invested significantly to create a better environment for the museum’s collections.
The extensive program of phased works includes the repair of the roof, two new galleries, the reconstruction of the chimneys and the decorative masonry.
The first phase involved sealing the historic building, installing a new roof, restoring the masonry on the front of the building, repairing more than 100 windows, restoring the iconic lantern window above the museum’s central hall and the distinctive carved stone porch – two legacies of the building’s past as the palace of the Bishops of St Davids.
The museum also has a new shop to showcase gifts inspired by the museum’s collections and regional crafts and will open next week.
The entrance to the museum has also been adapted and is fully accessible with a gentle ramp and an assisted exterior door. Other significant modernizations have also been carried out.
The second phase of the ongoing restoration work is well advanced and consists of modernizing two galleries on the ground floor.
This work, funded by the Welsh Government, should be completed by Easter.
The final phase will focus on smaller projects throughout the museum and park and will begin later this year.
While the museum is closed, the surrounding Bishop’s Park has also undergone a transformation under the direction of the Tywi Gateway Trust, with accessible paths, landscaping, interpretation and planting after the council awarded £300,000 towards the cost of development of disused dependencies into a dynamic visitor. center and café within the museum grounds.
Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, said: “A huge amount of restoration work has already been carried out and is continuing at Carmarthenshire Museum, and we are working towards a completion date later this year.
“We are delighted to have been able to complete the first phase of this work just in time to welcome this magnificent painting as part of the National Gallery‘s Masterpieces Tour. We wanted to be able to welcome visitors as soon as possible, so we kindly ask our visitors to stay with us as we complete the rest of the staged restoration work that is underway at the museum.
“Investing in our museums and engaging in cultural activities has a demonstrable positive impact on starting well, living well and aging well. Our museums are the family photo book of our country’s history, documenting where we come from and helping to shape the unique cultural identity of our future generations.