Museum PR Announcements News and Information

Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford Museum and Bedford Gallery Redevelopment Proposals

The redevelopment project will unite three currently separate buildings, the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford Museum and Bedford Gallery, in one building. For the first time, Bedford’s unique collections will be housed under one roof enabling the Art Gallery & Museum to provide excellent new services improved access and fantastic facilities.

The Art Gallery & Museum will provide excellent community facilities at the heart of the cultural quarter and make a significant contribution to the regeneration of the town centre.

New facilities will include an improved gift shop, selling unique ranges of merchandise related to our collections. There will be a café with seating in the courtyard, and onto the street. There will be improved learning spaces for families and schools that will mean we can provide a greater variety of family activities. New galleries will include study areas for students and researchers. Some of the galleries are planned to be flexible, so that exhibitions can be changed frequently and quickly. There will be spaces for community exhibitions and places where families can relax, or where staff and experts can meet with audiences.
Phase 1 – Bedford Gallery

Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum have been successful in securing £2.5 million from the Government through the Growth Area Fund to refurbish two historic buildings – Bedford Gallery and the Hexagon. The spaces, originally built in the 1840s have been used for wide variety of purposes including exhibitions and education activities; however, Bedford Gallery closed in the early 1970’s and has not been used since.

Bedford Gallery opened in April 2009 with an exhibition of Highlights from Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum. Bedford Gallery is host to a changing exhibition and event programme, details of which can be found on this website.

Bedford Gallery provides over 200 square metres of state of the art exhibition space, as well as being a venue for a wide variety of events and activities, including corporate events, lectures, meetings and other social functions.

Phase 2 – Refurbishment of Art Gallery and Museum

Outline building plans have been prepared and a Fundraising Programme launched to secure funds to support the proposals. Works cannot start until all funds are identified and secured.

The overall cost of the refurbishment of the Art Gallery and Museum buildings including new galleries, new collection stores, Learning and Activity Spaces, a new reception, shop and café, mechanical and electrical plant and equipment is estimated at £6.7 million.

Current pledges of financial support total £2.3 million, with grants totalling £4 million being considered by Bedford Borough Council, Bedford Charity and the Heritage Lottery Fund in the forthcoming months; leaving £400,000 to raise. Grant applications to Trusts, Business and individuals continue to be made.

Subject to the success of the fundraising programme it is anticipated that Bedford Museum will close at the end of 2010 with refurbishment works staring early in 2011. Works are expected to take 18 months (including the fitting out of new displays) with all facilities expected to reopen in late 2012. More detailed information concerning the timetable will be able to be prepared once detailed designs are finalised and tenders for works received.

Cecil Higgins Art Gallery closed as a consequence of the works to Bedford Gallery and will remain closed with collections protected in storage until refurbishment works begin.

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