In 1998, director Barbara Dawson secured the donation of Francis Bacon's studio from the artist's heir John Edwards and Brian Clarke executor of the Estate of Francis Bacon. In the August of that year, the Hugh Lane team removed the studio and its entire contents from London to Dublin. The team, led by conservator Mary McGrath, comprised archaeologists who made the survey and elevation drawings of the small studio, mapping out the spaces and locations of the objects and conservators and curators who tagged and packed each of the items, including the dust. The walls, doors floor and ceiling were also removed. The relocated studio opened to the public in 2001. Over 7,000 items were found and these were catalogued on a specially designed database.
The Francis Bacon Studio Database is the first computerised archive of the entire contents of a world ranking artist's studio. Every item in the studio has a database entry. Each entry consists of an image and a factual account of an object. The database has entries on approximately 570 books and catalogues, 1,500 photographs, 100 slashed canvases, 1,300 leaves torn from books, 2,000 artist's materials and 70 drawings. Other categories include the artist's correspondence, magazines, newspapers and vinyl records.
The Hugh Lane's relocation of Francis Bacon's studio and compilation of a fully comprehensive database of the entire contents is unprecedented in museum practice. It has changed the shape and focus of exhibitions of Francis Bacon's work ever since.
The Hugh Lane is part of the Artist's Studios Network and more details can be found here: www.artiststudiomuseum.org