The building in which once lived composer George Frideric Handel and later rockstar Jimi Hendrix is to undergo a £3m project to open all of the house to the public for the first time.

The Handel & Hendrix in London’s new project includes the restoration of the basement and ground floor, which was until recently a luxury goods shop.

Handel lived at 25 Brook Street from 1723 until his death in 1759. In 1968, Jimi Hendrix moved into an adjoining flat at number 23 where he collaborated with British 60s rock musicians.

The location closed for the works to take place in September 2021 and will reopen on 18 May 2023, 300 years after Handel first moved in.

Dubbed the Hallelujah Project, it will recreate Handel’s basement kitchen with all its fixtures and fittings, detailed on an inventory made shortly after the composer’s death, restore the ground floor parlours in which Handel would receive his guests, and restore the front façade of 25 Brook Street so that visitors can enter Handel’s home through his front door.

Historic rooms will be presented as they might have been in the 1740s, when the composer was enjoying commercial success writing dramatic oratorios.

Displays will include recently acquired works of art, creating a collection representative of the more than 100 works of art Handel owned in Brook Street.

The project will also see live music performed in the rooms in which it was written and, often, first heard and will be host to concerts, masterclasses and exclusive private events.

The museum said the income will be reinvested in the museum’s heritage and learning programme

The project will also see the refurbishment of the upper floors which were first opened in 2001.

In the mid 19th-century, the home was identified with the predecessor to London’s blue plaques.

Simon Daniels, Director of Handel & Hendrix in London said the recognition of the building had not protected it from “unsympathetic development”, “most notoriously at the turn of the last century when it was turned into an antiques shop with a two-storey shop front”.

“Restoring Handel’s house to its original appearance was an idea revived by musicologist Stanley Sadie in 1959. After 63 years, the Hallelujah Project will finally realise this noble ambition and ensure 25 Brook Street is an engaging, accessible and permanent testament to the fact that London was home to one of the world’s greatest ever composers.”

In 2016, Jimi Hendrix’s flat in 23 Brook Street was restored and opened to the public, presented as the Hendrix experience at Handel & Hendrix in London.

The project will also see this experience expanded, with visitors able to walk the stairs to his flat, and a new exhibition which will use sound and moving images.

A final exhibition will look at London’s cultural scene in the 18th century and 1960s, exploring how both artists shaped and changed the city.

Art Fund – News
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