Wellington Arch, the famous landmark on Hyde Park Corner, re-opened to the public today (9 May) after a major renovation project to transform it into London’s newest exhibition space.
Built in 1828 as a grand outer gateway to Buckingham Palace and a victory arch to commemorate Wellington’s defeat of Napoleon, the arch has been a familiar feature of central London for almost 200 years.
Now the interior of the monument, owned by English Heritage, has been dramatically reworked, with a new floor inserted to create the ‘Quadriga Gallery’, named after the huge four-horsed chariot on top of the arch.
This space will hold temporary exhibitions, changing on a two-monthly basis, showcasing some of England’s most spectacular heritage sites as well as less well-known historic gems. The 2012 programme opens with Stonehenge: Monumental Journey, which will run until June 24.
This display includes drawings and artefacts loaned by Wiltshire and Devises museums, including the first guidebook to the world-famous stones and artefacts from the grave of the Amesbury Archer (see CA 265).
Subsequent exhibitions will focus on the history of architecture and light entertainment at Blackpool, objects illuminating the lives of the Ladies of Kenwood House, including portrait miniatures and 1,500 decorative shoe buckles, and the influence of Egyptian culture on English architecture.
The lower floors of the arch house a bookshop dedicated to English Heritage publications and a permanent exhibition telling the story of the monument’s construction – and the incredible feat of dismantling it and moving it 20m to its current location in 1883, to help combat Victorian traffic jams.
Wellington Arch open Weds-Sun and on Bank Holidays, 10am-5pm.
Admission is free for English Heritage members; otherwise adult visitors are charged £4.00, concessions £3.60, children £2.40, and there is a family ticket available for £21.30.
More information: www.english-heritage.org.uk/wellingtonarch
Watch this space: more information on the arch and its new displays in the news section of CA 268…