Purcell’s meticulous restoration of Leighton House Museum in Kensington has won a Europa Nostra Award for Conservation, one of the world’s most prestigious architectural awards.
Originally the home and creation of eminent Victorian painter Frederic Leighton, the museum, which is owned and funded by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, underwent a programme of refurbishment and restoration between November 2008 and April 2010. This sensitive, carefully phased restoration programme was achieved through close collaboration between Purcell and the museum’s curators working to proven conservation standards with historic building specialists and skilled contractors.
External fabric repairs were initially carried out to conserve the museum’s external walls, roofs and joinery before reinstating the distinctive, ornamental brick “ziggurat” parapets above the Arab Hall and Silk Room. The historic ziggurats were derived from stepped pyramid profiles originally removed in 1959 and their painstaking restoration used carefully detailed handmade bricks to recreate their characteristic geometric shape and exotic appearance.
Leighton’s original decorative scheme, furnishings and historic lighting were reinstated within the museum’s historic interior, allowing his collections to be authentically displayed within environmentally controlled conditions. Newly conserved and re-presented ceramic wall tiles, mosaic flooring, re-stencilling and silk wall hangings have transformed the museum’s internal spaces in re-establishing Leighton’s carefully developed interior aesthetic and to explain how he used his studio home.