In 2020, the V&A marked the 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death with the refurbishment of the Raphael Court, home to the iconic Raphael Cartoons, loaned to the V&A from the Royal Collection by Her Majesty The Queen.
The refurbished Grade I listed Aston Webb gallery transforms the way museum visitors experience the cartoons through subtle changes to the architecture and a radical change to the décor of the space.
The Raphael Court presents a shift in pace within the busy museum and our designs emphasise this to create a quieter, more contemplative interior where the Cartoons are given the space they need, both physically and intellectually.
The new decorative scheme helps to focus attention and reveal the Cartoons’ extraordinary details and vibrant palette. Curved acoustic plaster panels on the ceiling help to create a calmer environment, and bespoke furniture enables visitors to sit and experience the works and interact with each other in new ways. State-of-the-art LED lighting reduces reflections on the glass and produce a marked increase in visibility of the works.
Improving the visibility and appearance of the Raphael Cartoons and bringing their interpretation up to date will help to explain their significance as design objects within a space that is fitting for both these remarkable drawings and the museums’ contemporary international audience.
The Raphael Cartoons are among the greatest treasures of the Italian Renaissance in England. Raphael (1483-1520) painted the series between 1515 and 1516 for Pope Leo X as full-scale designs for tapestries to be hung in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel. Seven of the ten original Cartoons survive and are displayed in the Raphael Court (Gallery 48a) at the V&A.
These works of art are lent to the V&A from the Royal Collection by Her Majesty The Queen, and have been on view in the museum since 1865.
Client: The V&A
Lighting Designer: Studio ZNA
2D Designer: Polimekanos
Structural Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan
Acoustician: Anderson Acoustics
Project Manager: Avison Young
CDM Advisor: CDRM Services
Contractor: Quinn London Ltd
Furniture Maker: Jon Lloyd Construction