Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:
Most people living in the Avonmore, Brook Green, and Sinclair Road areas know that Olympia has a new owner, headed up by the Yoo Group.
Yoo Group has extensive plans for Olympia including opening it back out into its separate historic buildings with open space, trees, cafes running between the buildings and accessible by the public. When I have met with the new owners we have also talked about opportunities for theatres, galleries, museums. One of the ideas I am keen to push is a museum of the local area. We have so much history beneath our feet and all around us. Imagine if school children could visit a local museum and be encouraged to understand and appreciate the wealth of history and beauty right here? Imagine a space that opened daily that provided a nucleus for all the local artists, archivists, and amateur historians who seek to explore and preserve our area’s past?
One of the obvious opportunities is to show some of the Cecil French Bequest. I expect most local residents do not know that Hammersmith & Fulham Council owns some of the most important and beautiful pre-Raphaelite paintings that exist. They were bequested to the Council by Cecil French in 1953. Edward Burne-Jones lived just off the North End Road for many years and his home “The Grange” was a gathering place for pre-Raphaelite artists. A local museum would honour Cecil French’s bequest and bring some of the paintings home.
As part of exploring this idea I visited Hammersmith & Fulham’s archives which are housed nearby. We have an extensive collection of maps, photographs, paintings, and records in storage. All longing for a bit of air and appreciation.
Part of the Cecil French collection is currently on display at the Watts Gallery in Surrey – and Hammersmith & Fulham residents can attend for free. Hire a bus!