ONE OF the world's greatest collections of Impressionist paintings will be joined by Old Masters that have not been seen in Britain for years when the Courtauld Institute Galleries reopen on Friday.
The galleries in the Strand, central London, have been closed for a year for a pounds 2.5m Lottery-assisted renovation. On Friday, visitors will again see familiar works such as Manet's Dejeuner Sur L'Herbe, and Van Gogh's Self Portrait With Bandaged Ear, but the surprise will be new rooms containing more than 50 paintings and sculptures that have been in storage for a decade or more - including Brueghel's Landscape with the Flight into Egypt, not seen in London for more than a decade, and Botticelli's The Throne of Mercy.
There is a new Early Renaissance gallery allowing the Courtauld, which is housed in Somerset House, to show for the first time the full range of its early Flemish and Italian collections. There will also be a new gallery for exhibitions from the Courtauld's 34,000 Old Master prints and drawings.
Galleries director, John Murdoch, said yesterday: "This is the greatest Neo-Classical building in London, and it is now back to its glory with treasures like Brueghel's much-reproduced landscape back on display."
More changes are afoot outside in the courtyard, which was designed by Sir William Chambers.
Thanks to a campaign by The Independent to remove parked cars from cultural spaces, the Inland Revenue, which is housed in part of Somerset House, is stopping staff from parking cars there.
There are also plans to turn a 160-yard terrace overlooking the Thames into a terrace cafe.
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