More than 10,000 people had signed a petition challenging an earlier decision to close the resource and make two members of staff redundant.
Last week, Dr Xavier Bray, director of the collection held in Hertford House, Manchester Square, said: “I am very pleased to confirm that the library and archive will remain open as before to any researcher, academic, art historian or member of the public. It has been heartening to hear so many voices who find [them] a valuable resource.”
However, he stressed the need to address the financial realities posed by a year in which visitor numbers had fallen by 95%. “These are unprecedented times. Like many institutions, the Wallace Collection has suffered a precipitous drop in our selfgenerated income. We will have to make difficult decisions in the future to ensure our financial sustainability.”
Members of the art and antiques trade had voiced their concern over the proposed closure of the archive that contains about 30,000 books and periodicals relating to the museum collection plus the papers of the collection’s founders.
Kathryn Singer, the British Antique Dealers’ Association’s director of strategy and operations, said: “Libraries and archives such as those at the Wallace Collection hold invaluable resources for research and education and public access to them is enshrined in many of the Wallace Collection’s values.
“It is our belief that every opportunity must be taken to ensure that the archive is still accessible to the public, particularly to those whose profession depends on properly understanding the objects they handle.”
Although closed since March 2020 because of the pandemic, the collection’s library and archive will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. As before, its opening hours will be from Tuesday to Friday, 10am-5pm by appointment.
Recently Christie’s has closed public access to its King Street archive of auction catalogues, a favourite resource of scholars, dea lers and museum professionals for decades.