Lancashire residents visiting the Hertford House Wallace Collection this Christmas can enjoy free museum tours by charming and informative guides – all of whom came to this country as refugees from troubled parts of Africa.
The Wallace Collection is an internationally renowned museum occupying a prestigious London town house, once home to the owners of the collection itself – the first four Marquises of Hertford, plus Sir Richard Wallace, son of the 4th Marquis, whose widow bequeathed the collection to the nation in 1897. As well as world-famous artworks such as Frans Hals’ The Laughing Cavalier, the collection also has over 500 items of antique furniture, the majority of it 17th and 18th century French. This includes possibly the most important collection of Boulle antique marquetry furniture in the world, with antique desks and tables of the most flamboyant design. However, there are also some more restrained English pieces to enjoy.
In February 2011, a group of ten African refugees embarked on a totally different journey, to learn everything they could about the treasures of the Wallace Collection. Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund, the group were also trained in the art of public speaking, with each member doing extensive research on their own favourite piece of furniture or artwork. Now fully trained, for two days a week in December and January these young experts are sharing their knowledge with members of the public, in a series of themed Hidden Treasures tours.
The antique marquetry furniture of Hertford House is priceless, but it is possible to find equally stunning antique cabinets in Preston , by visiting an antique dealer.
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