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St Albans New Museum and Gallery: progress report

Posted on: 28th October 2016 By: Stef Eastoe

We'll be sharing updates on the work around the New Museum and Gallery as the project progresses. If you'd like to join our mailing list to hear about news and events in the meantime, or if you have any questions, please email us at museum@stalbans.gov.uk or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

[For background on the project, plans, fundraising and FAQs click here> ]

Pre-construction work on the Town Hall has been completed, ready for Willmott Dixon to move in and begin works on developing the new museum and art gallery. Once they have installed themselves on site, the first task is to build the basement. There is an archaeological watching brief requirement for this part of the project. Simon West (our District Archaeologist) is hoping for an earlier moot hall, though surveying and core sampling has only detected clay and clunch. 

We continue to work with the architects, Historic England and the St Albans District Council Buildings Conservation Officer to ensure that any alterations or attachments are sympathetic to the building and avoid damage to any historic features of the building.

Staff have been working with the various authorities and market traders on hoardings which will ensure site safety, due to go up in November. The fundraising team have been successful in gaining sponsorship from local businesses, so look out for their logos. 

Funded by Arts Council England, the Museum team have worked with volunteers to develop ‘Talking Buildings’.  We will have kinetic (wind-up) listening posts on the hoardings where you will be able to listen to stories of St Albans buildings.

The Museum, University of Hertfordshire Arts and St Albans Arts teams have been working together to devise the early programme for the museum and art gallery. This will comprise of permanent display of St Albans' timeline, interpretation of the building, St Albans-themed displays and the temporary exhibition programme. 

We have just appointed an Heritage Lottery-funded (HLF) Collections Conservator to work with us for the next 3 years. Their role will be to devise a collections care policy and carry out preventative and remedial conservation for both the displayed and stored collections. They will be working with volunteers and interns to achieve this. We hope that we can make this post sustainable, so that it can be maintained once HLF funding has ended, by taking in paid-for work from other museums and collections in the region. 

We have also just appointed Eleanor Payne to the post of Learning Officer. She has previously worked at Hertford Museum and more recently the Women’s Library at the London School of Economics.

We are in the process of setting up a Curatorial Consultation Group made up of representatives from a range of museum and gallery users. This group will be invited to comment on and make suggestions for the public programme. 

We have invited caterers to tender for the café and event catering, and are working with the British Museum to extend our retail partnership to the Town Hall. 

St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust have been successful in raising funds through a range of private and public events, applications to trusts and a very successful opportunity to have your name on our honours boards. We now have £795k left to raise from our original target of £1.7 million. If you would like to support the project, please contact Georgina Bawden (01727 819203 / Georgina.Bawden@stalbansmgtrust.org.uk /     www.stalbansmuseumsandgalleriestrust.org.uk/donate/ )