Painted Hall Conservation - artists impression

An artist's impression of the conserved Painted Hall and new visitor centre.

This landmark project will clean and conserve the remarkable decorative scheme of the Painted Hall, re-presenting this baroque masterpiece in optimum environmental conditions. Over 2 years, a team of conservators will work on 3,400 square metres of painted surface, bringing new life and vibrancy to paintings obscured by decades of deterioration. A new visitor route and a range of sophisticated environmental controls should ensure no further intervention will be necessary for at least another 100 years.

During the project visitors will be given the once in a lifetime opportunity to access to the scaffolding to watch the conservation work on the vast Lower Hall ceiling at close quarters. Beneath the Painted Hall, the King William Undercroft will be transformed into a new visitor facility, with reception, café, retail area and interpretation gallery. This handsome vaulted undercroft will be brought back to something close to its original form, as modern partitions and other later additions are removed – creating beautiful new space.

Visitors will pass through the Undercroft and climb the stairs into the Painted Hall itself, where they will be able to unlock complex allegory and hidden meanings of Thornhill’s extraordinary paintings through a range of interpretive tools, from audio guides to printed descriptions. A new state-of-the-art lighting system will present the paintings in stunning clarity.

Alongside the conservation work will run an exciting programme of public engagement which aims to celebrate every element of the Painted Hall and its history, promoting skills, dialogue, and independent discovery in the exploration of the universal stories and timeless themes of Sir James Thornhill’s paintings.

William Palin, Conservation Director says “The Painted Hall is one of Britain’s greatest architectural and artistic treasures, but it is too little known. This project aims to raise it to the national and international prominence it deserves, providing a transformed and enriched visitor experience and helping us to engage with new audiences. For our partners and supporters, the project will offer a legacy of cutting-edge conservation and the highest curatorial standards, and a sustainable future for this 300-year old masterpiece.”
What the project will achieve:

  • Highly skilled cleaning and conservation of the 3400 square meters of painted surfaces within the Painted Hall and the Vestibule.
  • Stabilisation and management of the internal environment of the Painted Hall, to protect the condition of the paintings.
  • Ongoing environmental monitoring of the Painted Hall.
  • Refurbishment of the Undercroft to improve the Visitor Experience of the Painted Hall and provide a new visitor entrance, welcome area, café and shop.

Find out more

Download a map of the ORNC >