What is the Painted Hall?

  • The Painted Hall is the jewel at the heart of the most splendid group of early 18th-century buildings in Britain.
  • It was built not only as a dining hall but also as the ceremonial heart and showpiece interior of Greenwich Hospital – the most ambitious philanthropic venture of its time.
  • The buildings of the new hospital were conceived and planned by Sir Christopher Wren and completed over a period of 50 years by a succession of architects.
  • Thornhill worked on the Painted Hall between 1708 and 1727.

Why is the Painted Hall project so important to Old Royal Naval College (ORNC)?

  • The Painted Hall is our greatest treasure - the spiritual heart of the site, our main public attraction, and a breath-taking synthesis of architecture and painting.
  • The project will also play a key role in ensuring the long-term sustainability of the ORNC – both financial and in terms of building support from a wide range of audiences.

Why do you need to conserve the Painted Hall and what are the long term benefits of preserving the space?

  • The Painted Hall needs to be conserved because there is active and cumulative deterioration of the paintings – the causes of this are only now understood because of scientific and technological advances, which allow us to measure a wide range of parameters.
  • In the long-term, as custodians of this wonderful building we have a responsibility for keeping it in an exemplary state of preservation for future generations to enjoy.

What is the benefit to the public?

  • During the project we estimate that more than 1.3 million people will benefit from the project – everyone who visits the Painted Hall during this time will be able to take away something new (a skill, a memory, a piece of knowledge). There will be access on the scaffolding, heritage skills workshops, in-situ multimedia interpretation and online resources.
  • After the Painted Hall reopens, millions more will enjoy the benefits of the project for years to come.

What goals do you have for wall painting conservation and historic buildings conservation?

  • The aim of this project is to unlock the original vibrancy and beauty of Thornhill’s paintings through a very careful process of cleaning, repair and re-presentation
  • This process will be led by leading painting conservators, with input from a range of other experts including art-historians and specialists in environmental controls and monitoring.
  • Our goal can only be achieved through full understanding both of the nature of the painted surface and varnish layers, and of the agents of deterioration that have dulled, obscured and damaged the decorative scheme.
  • The same broad principals apply to building conservation – the judicious repair and replacement of decayed elements, the securing of the building for the future with minimum intervention or interference with the fabric.

What is the most important thing someone should know about this project?

  • It will be a ground-breaking conservation project, setting new standards in the care, conservation, presentation and interpretation of large-scale decorative schemes.

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