Ipswich Museum is about to start on its major refurbishment, made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, that will retain the best of the past and deliver the changes needed for a modern museum. The museum will need to close from 5pm on Sunday 2 October 2022 whilst the works to this Grade II* listed building take place.
The museum collections are extensive and contain many items of outstanding international significance. The closure of the building in October will allow for the collections on display to be carefully cleaned and packed away before works start to improve accessibility and create additional gallery space later next year.
The redevelopment will repair and refurbish the landmark Grade II* listed Ipswich Museum, retaining the original Victorian atmosphere of the Natural History Gallery. It will open up more space elsewhere in the building to exhibit more of the wonderful collections than ever before. There will also be better facilities for visitors and access will be much improved by a new lift and level floors.
Around 1,500 people have already engaged in consultations about the redevelopment so far. Exhibition designs are in their early stages and further extensive public consultation is planned. In early October we will publish details of how and when the public can get more involved in the project along with focus groups of target audiences and stakeholders. From spring 2023 and thereafter throughout the design process, there will be temporary displays detailing the developing designs as well as open days for public consultation.
These opportunities to become more involved will allow the team to demonstrate how the redevelopment will respond sensitively to the Museum’s 19th century character, whilst also delivering the changes to the displays needed for a modern museum.
Whilst the museum is closed, Christchurch Mansion will host learning sessions and there will be an online museum microsite available as a virtual resource. Pop-up exhibitions will also take place during the closure.
Cllr Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Ipswich Museum, says:
“This exciting project will see Ipswich Museum’s facilities improved and better access for all. The architectural beauty of Ipswich Museum will be restored to its former glory as we preserve the significant Victorian fabric and fittings in the Natural History Gallery, and improve the fabric of the building and its environmental performance.
“I’m very pleased that we will be opening up spaces to exhibit more of our collections, and look forward to supporting this project, which will help ensure that our much-loved Museum will be a wonderful place to visit for years to come.”
The redevelopment is being funded thanks to a collaboration between Ipswich Borough Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Friends of Ipswich Museum and various other Trusts and Foundations with an interest in local heritage and museum services. Funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been made possible thanks to National Lottery players.
Project costs are in the region of £8.7m, with Ipswich Museum set to re-open in 2025.