Tue 10 September 2019

In the next crucial step towards the redevelopment of the Warburg Institute building on Woburn Square, the Wolfson Foundation have awarded a generous grant of £450k for the Warburg Renaissance project. 

The extensive plans for the redevelopment of the Warburg Institute will revive and extend Aby Warburg’s vision to shape the future of cultural memory and complete architect Charles Holden’s unfinished 1950s building in the heart of Bloomsbury. The Renaissance will invigorate the Institute making essential improvements to the building and introducing new spaces that connect the Warburg with its origins in Hamburg.

The donation from the Wolfson Foundation represents the next crucial milestone in the Institute’s fundraising campaign for £5m to complement the University of London’s £9.5m commitment to the project. Professor Bill Sherman, Director of the Warburg Institute, believes it is a stamp of approval for the Institute’s ambitious development plans:

“We are very pleased the Wolfson Foundation have recognised the potential of our visionary project to transform the Warburg Institute. We hope the support of one of the most esteemed funding organisations in the UK can act as a catalyst and encourage other foundations to partner with us on the Warburg Renaissance.”

The Warburg Renaissance will transform the Warburg Institute by restoring its original vision and making it ready for future generations. The aim is to enhance the Institute’s academic resources, teaching facilities and public offerings, and create new facilities for special collections, exhibitions, and events. Through creating a more open and accessible building, it will be able to welcome in and educate a wider audience.

model of lecture theatre
One of the proposed designs for the new Lecture Theatre

The new public hub will revive the Institute’s early emphasis on display, nearly double the size of the lecture theatre, and introduce a new digital laboratory and a new café in opened-up, double-height spaces on the Ground Floor. A teaching suite with enlarged seminar rooms and improved group study areas will help to meet ambitious targets for growing the Postgraduate programmes and student community. The Library will be expanded to allow for at least 20 years of growth, along with refurbished stacks and improved climate control. In addition, the Archive and Photographic Collection will be relocated into new, purpose-designed spaces, alongside bespoke labs for conservation and imaging.

The next two years will see the Warburg Institute and the Warburg Charitable Trust increase development efforts to secure the support needed to deliver the ambitious programme. Find out more about the project, and how you can support it.

The Wolfson Foundation is delighted to be funding this important initiative. We were impressed by the ambition of the project and the dynamic leadership of the Institute. The key intellectual aims of the Warburg – the imaginative interplay of ideas, images and society – are just as relevant now as they were at its conception.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation.