Kettle’s Yard has recently re-opened after major renovations of its exhibition spaces. The museum is a small but important artistic site in the city of Cambridge. It is quite difficult to define it, if anything because of its hybrid nature. In fact, while Kettle’s Yard can be considered a museum, it is definitely not a traditional one. The space was developed around the former house of Jim Ede, a curator of the Tate Gallery between the 1920s and 30s. He was indeed a notable collector and over the years he filled his Cambridge cottage with pieces from most renowned artists, such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Joan Mirò.
The House space
When I first arrived at Cambridge in October 2016, Kettle’s Yard was closed for renovation works. This term, its rooms have reopened to the public and reveal once again the amazing exhibition space designed by the house’s last inhabitant. Since the building has become a museum, no piece has been moved from its original position. The intent was preserving the delicate balance that the owner had achieved by scattering precious works of art among more common objects. Walking around, one can find all sorts of objects, from stones to ceramics, among precious artistic artefacts.
The renovation works did not modify the house nor the exhibition layout. Rather, the project focused on the visitors’ needs. A new wing dedicated to educational activities has been added, along with further services such as the new shop and improved gallery spaces. This is an important signal, which shows that the institution, despite its static nature as a house-museum, is capable of changing and adapting to the new challenges faced by museums and art galleries. In this regard, Kettle’s Yard has always had a strong public vocation: Jim Ede himself used to open his house to visitors and would show students around during term time. The new facilities prove that his legacy will continue for the years to come.
Recently, I have become a student ambassador for Kettle’s Yard. This means that I will sponsor the institution among students and let it be known in my college and faculty. As the undergraduate representative of the history-of-art department, I believe that this link between the museum and the university is fundamental. One of the perks of being a student of art history at Cambridge is that several lectures are taught right in front of the artworks. Both the Fitzwilliam Museum and Kettle’s Yard, as well as the collections of the colleges, provide an ideal learning environment for us students. Therefore, I am extremely pleased that an important part of Cambridge’s art scene has become once again available to the public. I would recommend to all students who have not visited Kettle’s Yard yet to spend some time in its rooms, enjoy the quiet, cosy feeling of a place we could immediately call “home”. This is indeed the magic of this little gem: making us feeling comfortable even among artworks of the greatest value.