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LETTER: Gazing at the naval picture gallery

From Mr Pieter van der Merwe Sir: The idea that the Royal Naval College at Greenwich be used as an art gallery is hardly new (letter, 22 December).

From 1823 to 1936 the Painted Hall was indeed "The National Gallery of Naval Art", with some 300 works, including important ones by Turner, Reynolds, Gainsborough and many others.

As an entity, the Greenwich Hospital Collection - built up entirely by gifts from 1705 on - is one of the country's under-appreciated holdings, despite the fame of individual items in it, many Nelson-related, of course. Under the care of this museum since 1934, a notable selection from it is currently on display in our Queen's House exhibition marking the Hospital's Tercentenary, 1694-1994.

If the Naval College's departure from the hospital buildings allows opportunities to increase existing public access to them, and to use parts of them anew for such purposes, those are matters in which we will be keenly interested.

Yours sincerely, PIETER van der MERWE General Editor National Maritime Museum London, SE10

23 December