Worldwide interest in Swansea Museum has soared since news broke that a 17th Century Flemish masterpiece has been discovered in its storeroom.
The painting by artist Jacob Jordaens, estimated to be worth around £3m, is now on display on the first floor landing area of the historic Victoria Road attraction.
Identified by art historian Bendor Grosvenor for a new BBC Four series called Britain’s Lost Masterpieces, the painting is a rare preparatory oil study for one of Jordaens’ best-known works, Atalanta and Meleager, which hangs in the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Swansea Council figures show visits to the Swansea Museum website have more than trebled since the programme was first aired last Wednesday evening. Tweets from the museum’s Twitter account have also generated thousands of impressions across the world, being re-tweeted over 75 times.
Clips and still images from the BBC programme are being used to accompany the painting’s display at the museum.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Regeneration, said: “The interest in Swansea Museum has been hugely gratifying since the programme about the painting’s discovery and valuation was first broadcast.
“Not only have the museum’s website and social media accounts gone into overdrive, but we’ve also had scores of people from across the country visiting the museum to see the painting with their own eyes.
“The painting will now continue to be on display in the museum over coming months as we cater for this interest and give local people and visitors the chance to see a masterpiece that’s become the talk of the art world.
“Combined with the other artefacts and on-going exhibitions at the museum, the painting’s display will help further celebrate and share the story of Swansea’s rich heritage.”
The council is also reassuring residents that there are no plans to close the museum building.
Cllr Francis-Davies said: “As part of a review into our cultural services, we’re looking to retain and secure external investment in the building, while exploring other ways to make short-term museum service savings.
“We’re also reviewing the configuration of the museum’s collections store in Landore, which could lead to investment and the securing of expertise for conservation and top quality storage as part of the on-going regeneration of the historic Hafod Morfa Copperworks site.”
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