Methodist Modern Art collection to undergo major conservation

25 April 2019

The Methodist Modern Art Collection, one of Britain’s most important collections of modern religious art, will be removed from public display for several months after its next exhibition to undergo major rejuvenation work.

This unique and popular collection has toured the UK since its inception more than 50 years ago. Over 30,000 people saw the collection in 2018 alone. The 55 works in the collection mostly depict scenes from the life and teaching of Christ, and are by world-class artists such as Graham Sutherland, Elisabeth Frink, William Roberts, Patrick Heron and Maggi Hambling. Some artists were or are Christians.

The latest planned conservation work will return these important paintings to their full glory, and ensure that they are framed and have suitable travelling cases to protect them for the future when touring recommences. The cost of the conservation of the collection is being met by its owners, the Methodist Church, together with a donation from the Gibbs Trust. After the conservation work is complete the collection will be kept in high quality, professional storage where the works can be fully condition-surveyed between exhibitions, while discussions are being undertaken to find a new permanent home for the collection when it is not touring.

Ann Sumner, chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection management committee, commented: “We must care for the collection to the highest, possible standards, preserving it for future generations and ensuring it plays a key role in the missional life of the Methodist Church. We have ambitions to see it fully researched and interpreted, so that the widest audiences have the opportunity to engage with it. When we re-launch the collection in 2020, it will be in the very best of condition, many works being transformed by surface cleaning and other interventions, with strong, suitable frames, fit for the demands of regular touring.”

The final exhibition of the Methodist Modern Art Collection before the conservation work starts will take place in Leicester from 2 May until 9 June 2019 at venues across the city in a joint project between the Anglican churches, including Leicester Cathedral, and the Methodist church, ‘Wondering Soul’: www.wonderingsoul.co.u