Fiona Scott Media Consultanccy

In celebration of the upcoming Heritage Open Days across the UK, volunteers at Wiltshire's Athelstan Museum will be shining a light on their "own" Turner painting of Malmesbury Abbey.

Sharon Nolan, chairman of the museum, said: "We will be throwing open our doors on Saturday and Sunday September 18 and 19 to celebrate Malmesbury's own heritage and the highlight of our show will, of course, be our very own Turner!

"We are thrilled to share this amazing piece of art and we are so proud we have secured this iconic picture for future generations."

 

Joseph Mallord William Turner, born in 1775, is globally known as one of the UK's greatest artists. Some of his best known works include The Fighting Temeraire, The Burning of the Houses of Parliament and, of course Malmesbury Abbey in Wiltshire.

It was thanks to support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Art Fund and local Wiltshire donors that the Athelstan Museum was able to purchase one of the 96 watercolours that make up Turner's set of Picturesque Views in England and Wales.

He visited Malmesbury as a teenager, made a number of sketches of the abbey and its setting above the River Avon and it became the inspiration for several artworks later in his life.

The Malmesbury Abbey painting, now housed at Athelstan Museum, came up for sale in 2018 at the gallery of Richard Green in London and was spotted in a magazine advertisement by William Sykes, who is a member of the museum, and his wife Angela Sykes who is a trustee. After months of raising funds and negotiation it was purchased for the community.

Heritage Open Days will be celebrated across the UK with several Wiltshire heritage sites open to the public. The Athelstan Museum will be open on Saturday 18 September from 10.30am to 2.30pm and Sunday September 19 between 11 am and 3pm.

Heritage Open Days are the UK's largest festival of heritage and culture showcasing more than 2,000 locations around the country and highlighting the dedication and commitment of thousands of volunteers.

Other Wiltshire heritage sites which will be open across the weekend include Ratcliffe & Son, Westport Iron Works, Foundry Road, Malmesbury and The Julia and Hans Rausing Building, formally the Moravian Church, which has been recently renovated by the Athelstan Museum and will be exhibiting some other items from the museum's collection.

The Athelstan Museum can trace its origins back to 1931 when an appeal was made for items to include in its first collection which was then displayed in the town hall. The Turner has pride of place at the top of the stairs in the newly renovated mezzanine floor of the museum.

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