A successful application to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation has led the Falmouth Art Gallery to receive an award of £56,820 to undertake a three year Frameworks Project, believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

This unique and ground-breaking project will, catalogue and conserve all major frames in the collection, providing equal care and scholarly emphasis in the marriage between picture and historic ornamental frame, says curator Brian Stewart.

Over a three year period major works by artists such as George Frederick Watts, John William Waterhouse, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Sir John Arnesby Brown, John Opie, George Romney, Sir Alfred Munnings, Dame Laura Knight, Henry Scott Tuke, William Strang and Ben Nicholson will have their frames conserved to the highest professional standards.

"The role of the frame in the presentation of a picture fulfils many functions including the enhancement of subject and colour, the focus of the spectator's attention on the subject and most importantly the provision of an area of transition between real world and the picture," said Mr Stewart.

"However, to date no British gallery or museum, in presenting pictures to the public, has given the collection in its entirety equal emphasis as a marriage between frame and picture. The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation in providing the grant has recognized that Falmouth Art Gallery is in a unique position to set the standard, because of its small, but high quality collection."

The idea for the project came from the landmark book Frameworks by Paul Mitchell and Lynn Roberts - experts on the most significant frame styles associated with major European artistic movements. The authors have agreed to provide specialist advice to the project.

The project aims to: Show that scholarship and family friendly interpretation can be achieved in harmony, encourage contemporary artists to see, where relevant, the frame as an integral piece of the artwork, develop professional skills in the heritage sector, including craft skills, train and involve volunteers, mount two exhibitions, one during the project and one on completion. roduce a catalogue and web based programme and run an accessible community education programme, including gallery talks and workshops.

The bid took nearly two years to research, cost and prepare because of the specialist nature of the work, so the gallery staff are delighted that the bid has proved successful.