The museum's curator was forced to assertthat the rehanging is 'not woke'Fitzwilliam Museum with permission for Varsity

Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam museum has today (15/03) unveiled its new rehanging following a major refurbishment project.

The redisplay will place old and new artworks alongside each other, with each of the five main galleries being organised by theme rather than chronology or movements. Luke Syson, the Fitzwilliam’s director, said: “This redisplay juxtaposes historic and contemporary works to offer a narrative that links past and present.”

Earlier this week, Syson was forced to defend the rehanging, saying that the new display is not “woke,” explaining that it shouldn’t be controversial to be “inclusive and representative”.

The new galleries will place artists of different time periods and disciplines together, to create “many surprising moments of correspondence and dialogue between works of art,” Rebecca Birrell, the curator of the new displays, has said.

The galleries’ themes will include the interior lives of women, emigration, and the natural world.

“Incorporating several exciting new acquisitions, our thematic rehang will transgress the boundaries of time and place that traditionally organised these five galleries,” Birell said.

The displays will feature new acquisitions from contemporary artists such as Joy Labinjo and Barbara Walker, alongside some of the museum’s long-term holdings by artists including Paul Cézanne and Thomas Gainsborough.


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“We can do this so well because of the depth and range of our magnificent collection and because of some exceptional new acquisitions,” Syson said.

“Many of our most famous works of art now take their place alongside more unfamiliar pieces in a rich array that deliberately leaves space for a range of responses and asks us all to think anew,” the director said.

The new rehanging opened today, and the Fitzwilliam is currently displaying an exhibition on William Blake.