A Century of Giving
Section Four: 1990-2008
A 21st century Museum: Simon Jervis & Duncan Robinson
Under the directorships of Simon Jervis (1990-1995) and Duncan Robinson (1995-2008), the Fitzwilliam Museum has recently undergone another great transformation, comparable to that carried out a century ago under Sydney Cockerell.
The millennium was marked by the launching of the Courtyard Development Appeal. This £12 million capital building project, funded partly by a Heritage Lottery grant, transformed an unused courtyard into a spectacular glazed atrium. The result has been described as 'a triumph of reorganisation'.
Completed in 2004, the Courtyard Development reflects the priorities of a 21st century museum. Aimed at improving facilities and widening access to the collections for both public and staff, it includes space for teaching, storage and workshops, as well as a new exhibition gallery, café, and enlarged shop. A museum website and online database have also been launched to create, and provide public access to, records and images of the collection.
The Friends contributed over £100,000 to the Courtyard Appeal, much of this in the form of individual donations, and their generosity as a body continues unabated.
Some significant recent acquisitions include prints by Pablo Picasso and the incomparable Macclesfield Psalter. Meanwhile, gaps in the 20th century ceramic holdings are being filled with help from the Friends' fund. And, as the Museum looks to the future, as well as safeguarding the past, the Friends' fund continues to be used to purchase outstanding works by contemporary artists and designers in all media.
In 2007, Duncan Robinson (now CBE) retired, and Timothy Potts took over as the Museum's 12th Director.
Now designated a museum with outstanding collections, the Fitzwilliam has begun a new phase in its two-hundred year history. This exhibition not only celebrates the generosity of the Friends thus far, but also anticipates the next 'century of giving' which will help maintain its status as a world class museum.
Fitzwilliam Museum Newsletter 2004 [pdf] featuring the completion of the Courtyard Development