One of Warrington’s most iconic buildings and cultural hubs is set to reopen after a major restoration project.
Warrington Museum and Art Gallery and Central Library on the corner of Bold Street and Museum Street have been undergoing vital repairs in the region of £360,000 to ensure they can continue to be used by generations to come.
The maintenance work has focused on the repair of the Grade II-listed building’s roof but there will also be some new things to look out for such as an update of the collections in the local history gallery, a bespoke mural in the archives search room and three new exhibitions.
Due to its age, the roof of the 170-year-old building could no longer be repaired and needed a complete overhaul to ensure it was safe for visitors and fit for purpose to protect the museum and gallery’s collections.
A celebration and launch event will be taking place on Saturday, 23 April and will be free to attend between 10am and 4pm.
It will include a family-friendly takeover of the whole building with trails and treasure hunts and drop-in activities such as crafts and storytelling as well as workshops and performances.
Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, run by the charity Culture Warrington, was established in 1857 and is one of the oldest museums in the country. It features a treasure trove of more than 200,000 historical artefacts from all over the world.
The relaunch also means Culture Warrington’s award-winning programme of events and special exhibitions can continue as well as the likes of family craft sessions. The much valued archives and local history services will be back too, where people can search their family tree, the history of their house, or learn about the part of Warrington they live in.
Warrington Central Library is run by the community interest company LiveWire. Visitors of all ages will once again have access to the library’s full range of books, information and online resources and the team are looking forward to having the space to host regular groups and sessions as well as one-off events like the upcoming Jubilee Family Activity Day and Litfest.
Emma Hutchinson, Managing Director of Culture Warrington and LiveWire, said: “The Warrington Museum and Art Gallery and Central Library building is not just of historical importance – its cherished facilities are used by all sections of the community. So we can’t wait to welcome everyone back with our launch event for all the family on Saturday, 23 April.
“We appreciate we have been closed for a long period of time but our top priority was ensuring utmost care was taken to preserve and protect this cultural and educational hub for generations to come.”
Cllr Tony Higgins, Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for leisure and community, said: “Warrington Museum and Gallery and Central Library is one of our literary and cultural gems, and a hugely important asset for local people. This refurbishment – in particular the much-needed renovation of the roof – will protect the building for the future and ensure it is fit-for-purpose.
“I’m delighted these works – part of our ongoing work to invest in libraries across Warrington - have now been completed and the building is ready to open its doors once more. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming everyone to our family friendly launch event in April, celebrating the start of a new era for the building.”
In the meantime, Warrington Museum and Library have been enjoying a temporary home in the heart of the town centre thanks to the support of Golden Square.
The Pop-Up has been a popular addition to the centre and has given Culture Warrington and LiveWire the opportunity to engage with new audiences with families regularly visiting during trips to the shops.
The former USC unit features a condensed version of both the museum and library – a one-stop shop of culture and heritage with carefully curated historic collections, exquisite artwork and IT services.
Since its arrival in May 2021, the Pop-Up Museum and Library has welcomed around 45,000 visitors. There have been other benefits such as being able to support Warrington artists through exhibitions and selling their work.
The temporary unit will sadly close on Easter Monday, 18 April, as the museum and library make the transition back to their original home.
However, due to the success of the Pop-Up, opportunities will continue to be explored to not only find ways of attracting those new audiences to the original building but also look at ways other Culture Warrington and LiveWire services can have a presence at Golden Square.
Warrington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for culture, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, said: “Warrington Museum and Art Gallery is one of the oldest museums in the country, and a hugely important part of our cultural offer. This investment has rejuvenated the building and will help ensure its long-term sustainability as a bustling hive of creativity, heritage, learning and culture.
“As the building re-opens to the public, I’d like to thank the staff at our temporary Pop Up Museum and Library in Golden Square. They have done a fantastic job of keeping people connected with Warrington’s unique history and culture while these vital refurbishment works have been carried out.
“If you haven’t visited our Museum and Art Gallery before, there’s never been a better time to dip your toe in the water and discover for yourself the wealth of historical and cultural treasures held there.”
Ian Cox, Centre Director at Golden Square, said: “Introducing the library and museum offer into Golden Square came at a time when both retail and culture needed to think a bit differently about how we attract more visitors – and worked out perfectly for both of us.
“We have always worked closely with Culture Warrington on events and promotions, but this has really opened up the door I hope to some long term partnerships moving forward. It’s important to me that we support and highlight the cultural offer within the town, but it’s equally as important we make it accessible to all.”
Notes to editors:
Warrington Museum & Art Gallery is one of the oldest museums in the country. Opened in 1848, much of the quintessential character of the building has been preserved and its original glass cabinets are crammed with treasures from all around the world.
The venue is run by Culture Warrington, which is a charitable trust that was established in May 2012 to also manage Pyramid Arts Centre, Parr Hall and cultural events across the town including Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival.
The permanent galleries feature a wealth of material from the natural world and also local pieces from Warrington’s history. The art gallery showcases the work of local, national and internationally renowned artists and recent exhibitions have featured Banksy, Tracey Emin and Sam Taylor-Wood.
Warrington Museum & Art Gallery also provides an exciting schools programme on many themes, including Egyptians, toys from the past and special early-years sessions.