Museum gallery damaged in 1940 reopens

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The Independent Online
A GALLERY at the Natural History Museum, badly damaged by a bomb in the Second World War, reopened yesterday after a pounds 1.4m restoration.

Original terracotta wall carvings of dogs, wolves and bears by the architect Alfred Waterhouse have re-emerged after being hidden for decades. The Jerwood Gallery, named after the Jerwood Foundation, which contributed a pounds 900,000 grant for the work, will exhibit one of the world's finest collections of natural history paintings, drawings and prints. There will also be a five-year programme of contemporary exhibitions, theatre, dance and installation art, intended to illustrate the close connection between natural history and art.

Dr Neil Chalmers, director of the museum in South Kensington, west London, said: "As well as being a platform for contemporary art-led exhibitions, the new Jerwood Gallery enables the museum to display its historical art collection. The museum holds over half a million natural history drawings and paintings, the third largest collection of art on paper in the United Kingdom."

Dr Chalmers said the gallery, built in 1881, would concentrate on providing adult attractions. "A lot of the museum is attracting a family audience. We already have some areas catering very much for adults - the Earth Galleries, for example - but we want to ensure that adults do not feel that they need children as an excuse to come here," he said.