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The Green Gallery Project: Revisiting the Barber’s Pre-1600 Italian Paintings

The Green Gallery Project was a two-year undertaking to research and reinterpret the Barber’s pre-1600 Italian paintings. The central objective was to increase access and engagement with this challenging part of the collection.

Devised by the Barber in 2021, this project was undertaken by a National Gallery Curatorial Trainee, Dr Chloe Church. The trainee programme, launched in 2011 and generously supported by the Art Fund with the assistance of the Vivmar Foundation, involved trainees spending six months at the National Gallery, undertaking intensive curatorial training, before working for the following 16 months with a regional partner museum on a specified research/ curatorial project.

Chloe’s extensive research and engagement with a range of the Barber’s audiences culminated in the redisplay, rehang, and reinterpretation of the pre-1600 Italian paintings gallery, opening 22 June 2024.

Chloe said:

"I was delighted to play a part in the exciting endeavour to research and reinterpret The Barber Institute’s pre-1600 collection. The Green Gallery contains some of the most beautiful and intriguing objects in the collection, traversing four centuries of European history and recalling themes of identity, religion, and story-telling, which remain relevant topics to our audiences today. The rehang is grounded in new research discoveries, and it is our hope that visitors, returning and new, will enjoy beholding the paintings in new contexts."

Chloe Church green gallery

Research

The backbone of the project was Chloe’s extensive research into each of the paintings in the form of catalogue-style reports of approximately 3000 words each. These include technical notes, provenance, artist, date, iconography, and context. Each is supplemented by approximately 30 supporting images and extended bibliographies.

The outcomes of Chloe’s research include two new attributions, a new title, several new dates, and countless new conclusions relating to iconography and original function.

You can find summary texts, informed by this research, on the individual object pages, listed below.

To access the full reports for your research, please contact us at info@barber.org.uk

Reinterpretation

Chloe led interpretation sessions with numerous interested groups, including Barber and university staff and students, National Gallery and freelance curators, religious groups, and school and family groups, among others.

By engaging with the Barber’s audiences and professionals in the museum sector, she was able to develop new interpretation, including new in-gallery wall texts and extended online entries.

The reinterpretation has prioritised making meaningful connections between the paintings and our audiences.

Chloe Church green gallery

Redisplay

Chloe curated the redisplay of the Green Gallery based on her research and reinterpretation of the artworks.

The new display uses the bays in the space to create clusters of paintings based around themes that developed from interpretation sessions. These include: Christian devotion, Mary Mother of God, Attributes of identity, Classical influences, and Venetian masterpieces.

The Barber has worked with the London-based design team Kellenberger and White to produce new format labels and panels and to help increase access and points of connection between audiences and objects.

Download the Green Gallery Guide (PDF 49.37KB).

All researched objects: