The Bayeux Tapestry, one of the great works of romanesque art was due to come to the UK in 2022 as reported on this blog in January. It now looks like the loan will not take place as a condition survey revealed the extent of its damage is greater than believed.
The original plan was to restore the tapestry and loan it to the UK in the window of opportunity created by the refurbishment of the Bayeux Museum.
The French Ministry of Culture, who will fund the restoration, are currently grappling with the logistics of transporting the work of art to a restoration location, as well as deciding where that should be. The likelihood of resolving these questions, completing the work, and there still being time for the loan now seem very unlikely. The Bayeux Museum will re-open in 2026 and the restored Tapestry will be the main attraction at its re-opening.
This is of course a great shame as the loan would have ended some 850 years of the Tapestry’s absence from this country. There is, of course, an excellent replica in Reading Museum. It was made by a group of Staffordshire embroiderers in Leek in 1885. From there, unlike the original it travelled on a world tour before being acquired by Reading Museum in 1895. It is a very accurate copy and well worth a visit as compensation for not be able to see the original.