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The Waddesdon Bequest (Room 45) – gallery closed
Room 45 is now closed. The Waddesdon Bequest is being
redisplayed in a new gallery on the ground floor, due to open in
June 2015. The Holy Thorn Reliquary will be displayed temporarily
in Room 40 for as long as possible while preparatory work
The new gallery has been made possible through the generosity of the Rothschild Foundation.
16th – 17th centuries AD
The Waddesdon Bequest is a collection of nearly 300 precious art objects from Renaissance Europe. It was bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, M.P., when he died in 1898. The Bequest is named after Waddesdon Manor, the mansion he built in Buckinghamshire, England, where the collection was housed during his lifetime.
The collection was accumulated by Baron Ferdinand and by his father, Baron Anselm, and was intended to rival those put together by rulers and princes from the Renaissance onwards. It is mainly made up of small-scale, rare and precious pieces of the highest quality which were intended to inspire a sense of curiosity and wonder.
Objects on display in Room 45 include masterpieces of goldsmiths' work, painted enamels, glass and ceramics, sculpture and small carvings in wood.