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Restoring the museum

A brand-new museum

Over the years, we’ve built up an unrivalled collection of objects, photographs, film and audio recordings. Our new museum brings this rich collection together with modern displays and the latest technology to really bring to life the story of the area and the people who have lived here over the years. We’ll take you right back to prehistoric times before tracing the history of this part of west London through themes such as work and industry, childhood and home and leisure and fashion. Throughout the museum there are objects to handle, memories to listen to and games for families to play together. The museum has more galleries than ever before and more of our special collections are on display. We’ll also be changing some of the displays on a regular basis and hosting temporary exhibitions in a custom designed gallery. Meanwhile, our new, pre-bookable Archive Room means you can also use our collection to research your own family history or help with local studies.

Reviving the Rothschild Rooms

Prior to becoming a museum in 1929, the Rothschild family owned the mansion. In the 1830s they commission a suite of grand reception rooms from the fashionable architect Sydney Smirke. In recent years the glory of the drawing room, long gallery, dining room had been overshadowed by the collection of large carriages displayed within them. However, with the carriages now housed in a purpose-built space next to the café, these three room have been extensively restored. For the first time, you will be able to see the rooms as the Rothschilds intended and take in the expansive views of the park they were designed to make the most of.

Conserving the mansion

The years had taken their toll on the structure of the building but it has now been completely restored. The mansion itself dates from the early nineteenth century and was designed in the Regency style. As is typical of architecture of this style, the house is finished in white painted stucco (a type of render) and the façade features large windows and is ornamented by columns. The building is Grade II* listed which means that it is of particular historical importance. Our specialist contractor repaired the roof, restored the façade and re-ordered and renovated the interior spaces. They used traditional building techniques and materials including lime plasters and Roman cement and carefully restored original features such as the 147 wooden window frames. Some items, including the ‘Four Seasons’ painting in the long gallery and all the door ironmongery, were sent to expert conservators for cleaning and repair.

Fit for the twenty-first century

Behind the scenes, the electrics have been completely refitted, floors have been strengthened and improved fire protection added. There is also a new lift which means that all the galleries are fully accessible and we’ve also introduced new toilets which offer more extensive facilities for visitors with disabilities and families. We also have a brand-new visitor reception area and gift shop. As well as restoring the mansion to its former glory, our project will make visiting much easier and more enjoyable in the future.

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