QODA were appointed as part of the design team to transform and redevelop the Grade I listed Georgian Townhouse, Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury. Gainsborough’s House is the childhood home of Thomas Gainsborough (1727–88), one of the greatest artists in the history of British art. In 1958, Gainsborough’s House Society was formed to purchase the house and establish it as a centre for Thomas Gainsborough. The Museum opened to the public in 1961 and has remained open for over 50 years. The ‘Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace – a national centre for Gainsborough’ project started in autumn 2019.
This ambitious project aimed to fascinate and inspire audiences to enjoy the art, life, and passions of one of Britain’s foremost artists, in the special setting of his childhood home. The project saw the renovation and redisplay of the historic house to interpret, entertain, and inspire new visitors to learn about the artist, his family, and social context.
A new landmark three-storey structure was constructed alongside the house and replaced an empty local authority building on a brownfield adjacent to the house. It provides spaces for exhibitions, displays, and education with four new galleries: a showcase Gainsborough gallery, a landscape studio with panoramic views over Sudbury, a community gallery, and a temporary exhibition gallery/performance space. After three years, the Gainsborough’s House Museum has now reopened to the public.
The Watering Place café overlooks the beautiful 18th century garden and enhances the visitor experience, along with improved facilities, more spaces for learning, talks, and concerts.
With a total project cost of £9m, £5.2m was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with further donations from charitable trusts and foundations. The project gathered support from celebrities including Dame Anna Wintour, Loyd Grossman OBE, Maggi Hambling CBE, Nicole Farhi OBE, and Griff Rhys Jones.