The ten-year vision will see a £25 million investment in campus development and outreach that reflects the college’s commitment to providing the creative and conservation sectors with talented students of exceptional training. The investment will also include plans for greater funding to make tuition accessible for more students who want to undertake studies at West Dean.
As well as this, facilities will be improved with the construction of a new library and archive space to support scholarship and research and to safeguard the college’s important archive. The college says it will design new student workshops to support excellence and to meet growth, and a new exhibition centre will be built at the heart of the college’s gardens for the display of iconic works from its collection.
“By 2027, more than half a century after West Dean College’s first students stepped into the workshops and studios, we will have strengthened our position among the top colleges for arts and conservation with increased national and international reach,” said Alex Barron, Chief Executive. “The College is a unique place of learning with a remarkable story and heritage. Today we look to the future with renewed ambition for the talented students who go on to contribute to the thriving creative industries, or play a role in the conservation of society’s cultural and artistic heritage.”
The college is also developing its partnerships and professional networks to extend impact, nationally and internationally, and to increase graduate opportunities. Many West Dean College alumni have gone on to work with significant collections in some of the world’s top museums and heritage organisations, or successfully exhibited their work around the world. The college is increasingly active as a loan partner for exhibitions such as the Science Museum’s recent Robots exhibition and the current Dali/Duchamp exhibition at the Royal Academy.
West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
In 1939 poet and lifetime art collector Edward James wrote to his friend Aldous Huxley of his plans to turn his West Dean estate into a college to preserve certain arts and crafts he thought would suffer as a consequence of the Second World War.
In 1971 James’s West Dean Collage was opened as centre for education and training in conservation and in the visual and applied arts with the first full-time programme launched the following year in furniture making and conservation.
Today there are a number of fine art courses and those that specialise in conservation such as the full-time MA Conservation Studies and the new MA Collections Care and Conservation Management, which is a part-time programme of modular study that enables those working or volunteering in the sector to gain their Master’s degree alongside their work.