Brassey’s Brilliant Banquettes
The award-winning Hastings Museum & Art Gallery is a family-friendly museum with amazingly diverse collections; there really is something for everyone! The museum was established over 125 years ago and has always offered people the opportunity to explore art, culture and history from around the world.
During the pandemic, we’ve been working closely with our community, delivering an innovative programme including online through #HastingsDigitalMuseum.
We want to build on this support and use it to help preserve the museum’s collections for future generations.
Why do we need your help?
Our beloved banquettes have been well used over the years and are now in a very poor state. If we don’t take action soon, the material may deteriorate too far to be repaired.
We have never tried to crowdfund before, so this is a new adventure for us, and we would like you to join us. Please share the project with your friends, family and colleagues!
The Story Behind the Banquettes
The spectacular woodcarvings and furnishings of the Durbar Hall were originally created for the Colonial & Indian Exhibition held in South Kensington, London, in 1886; within Britain it is almost unique.
The banquettes were re-upholstered by Lord and Lady Brassey after the Exhibition when the Hall was moved to their Park Lane mansion. The material they used was bought in Cairo by Annie Brassey on one of her early trips. Annie was a famous early photographer, traveller and writer. The material was originally made for Sultan Abdul Aziz, the 32nd Sultan of the Ottoman Empire who reigned between 1861 and 1876. The embroidered patterns include Arabic text set within stylized cartouches and bordered with foliate and graphic motifs. The designs are made from panels of silk and richly embroidered with metallic threads.
Following the deaths of Lord and Lady Brassey, the family presented the building and many of its contents to the town of Hastings in 1919. It was re-erected as an extension to the Museum in 1931.
Why help fund this project?
By helping to fund this conservation work, you will be helping the museum to preserve a rare example of craftwork of this kind as well as an important part of the Durbar Hall furnishings in their original condition.
It will make a big improvement to the look of the historic Durbar Hall and help generate an awareness of and enthusiasm for the stories around it.
How is the money being spent?
The main funding target of £18000, will pay for a textile conservator to work on the banquettes as well as some of the exclusive rewards.
Any additional money raised will go towards a research bursary for work looking into the history of the upholstery and the delivery of associated public programming.
What else can I do to help?
There are several ways you can help in addition to donating. Here are a few suggestions:
- Tell your family and friends about it
- Share the project on social media