Cabinet to discuss new art museum’s site in Swindon town centre
ART in Swindon could soon be given a new home in the space vacated by the soon-to-be demolished Wyvern Theatre car park.
Following an independent appraisal of four locations for a new art gallery and museum, the site was chosen to be discussed at cabinet next week.
The need for a new home for art in Swindon arises as the current gallery, on Bath Road, is considered too small to house the sizeable collection owned by the Borough.
Coun David Renard, chair of the Swindon Heritage Board, said: “It is a lovely building, but I do not think there are too many people who think it is an ideal place to house the collection in Swindon.
“We have space to display no more than 10 per cent of our art collection and we have a fabulous collection but we are not making the most of it.
“We have had an independent assessment done, and the key reason this location has been chosen is that the Town Centre Masterplan identifies Princes Street as the cultural quarter of Swindon.
“That is one of the main drivers of the report, and everybody was happy with that recommendation.
“The Masterplan has cross party support, and we have consulted with residents and businesses. It is a project everbody has signed up to which will shape the future of Swindon town centre.
“We need to go out to tender to find contractors to bring down the two car parks first, which will likely come by the middle of next year.”
In order to fund the ambitious project, the council has invited benefactors to step in to help with the cost. Robert Hiscox, of Hiscox Insurance, among others, has expressed interest and, if the plans are approved, an application will also be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant.
Coun Renard added: “Robert Hiscox is an individual who is very interested in art and is a collector himself. He will be working with various other wealthy donors to work towards delivering this.”
Robert Hiscox said: “The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has a fascinating collection of modern British and contemporary art, but the collection deserves a better home and it is inspirational that the council, politicians and local people have united behind the vision of building a new one.
“A new museum and art gallery would bring a cultural vibration to the heart of Swindon and be a vital part of its regeneration and a great asset to the whole region.”
Gordon Dickinson, a local artist, threw his support behind the site next to the Wyvern as the inspiration for a new cultural quarter.
“I see the car park as a great area, because it would be keeping all the art in one corner of town,” he said.
“That would allow people to take in both the art gallery and the theatre. It makes sense, how many car parks do we need anyway?”
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