The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust is asking Swindonians to send their ideas to help find a new home for the town’s incredible museum and art collections.
Following the decision by Heritage Lottery Fund not to support Swindon’s bid earlier this year, Swindon Borough Council have committed to finding another solution to deliver their Pledge to deliver a new home for Swindon Museum & Art Gallery.The Trust are determined to make sure that the people of Swindon are able to have their say, and are asking people to get in touch in person, by post, or online by the 27th August.
Director Dr Rod Hebden says, “it’s important to us that we get input from across Swindon, both on the ideas for location of the museum and art gallery, but also on the criteria that should be used to assess those ideas.”
“Celebrating our heritage and the story of Swindon is as important to our town’s identity and future prosperity as ever. Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have advised that they cannot be a principal funder in a large new facility, so we now need to be creative and draw on the innovative nature of Swindon residents to find the best solution, which must be affordable, deliverable, sustainable and make Swindon proud.” says Rod.
The Options Appraisal will be carried out by Swindon Borough Council officers, who have committed to look at any possible ideas as part of the work.
Along with the Mechanics Institute, the original Options Appraisal shortlisted the Aspen House site and the former Technical College on Victoria Road, both of which have now been given new uses. As a result of that work, the Wyvern Theatre Car park was the selected as the preferred site for a new build.
However, we are now in a position to consider new sites which may be new or existing buildings.
How can you submit your suggestions?
They can do any or all of these things:
- Contact us via the Trust website – www.swindonmuseum.org.uk
- Email us at – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Write to us care of the Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, Bath Road, Old Town, Swindon SN1 4BA
- Ask us to come out to your organisation or club or place of work to tell you more – email email@example.com
Why do we want to build a new museum and art gallery?
Our town has been building one of the most exceptional collections of contemporary art and ceramics in the country, ever since 1943, when local businessman “Jimmy” Bomford loaned – and later gifted – 21 works of contemporary British Art to the people of Swindon.
But that’s only part of the picture. Our museum is also home to an excellent archaeological collection that reflects its rich history from prehistory to the modern day, including internationally significant finds.
The current museum and art gallery in Old Town has very little space, and doesn’t allow us to adequately display the fantastic artefacts and works of art. It is inaccessible to most people with mobility issues and doesn’t have the facilities which schools need for educational visits.
Where is the new museum and art gallery going to be built?
As a result of the last Options Appraisal, the site of the demolished Wyvern Theatre Car Park was selected as the preferred site.We are now widening our options to include ideas from people and organisations across the town.
It should be an iconic facility which should stimulate the town’s regeneration. We know from the experiences of towns and cities elsewhere that when a visitor centre is built in the centre of a town, the surrounding area gets a significant and sustained economic boost.
A town centre museum and art gallery will attract more footfall, which will make the area attractive for high-quality independent shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as creative industries and cultural entrepreneurs.
It will create a dynamic heart that can be enjoyed by local people and by visitors alike. This revival of the town will also encourage future investment in other heritage assets and re-position Swindon as a thriving cultural concern – a place where people will love to live, work and visit.
How will it be financed?
Feedback from the HLF indicated that changes in their funding and direction mean that they are no longer likely to be able to fund a large new facility at the level they have in previous years. Therefore, we need to be creative to find a new funding model. However:
- Swindon Borough Council has committed £5 million, as well as land, should the Options Appraisal select the same site as previously
- Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) has committed £1.35 million
- The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust will make applications to a range of funders, including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the capital costs
- The trustees have donated more than £250,000
- Private donors
- Local fundraising and sponsorship