Museum + Gallery a hit with 160,000 people 18 Dec 2018
St Albans Museum + Gallery opened on June 8th after five years of planning, and the hard work of many people determined to be a part of reinvigorating a beloved landmark into a dynamic cultural hub for the City.
The £7.75m project to physically restore the Georgian Grade II* listed Town Hall took two years, and included the hand excavation of a new basement gallery and the addition of glazed links on the first floor. The building has since been the home to multiple cutting edge art installations, fascinating historic exhibitions and a dynamic programme of events for families and adults.
Most importantly, the building is free for everyone to come in and have a look around, to take time to reflect, to meet up with friends and spend time with family. We want to cater for everyone, from young enquiring minds as well as lovers of modern art and historic artefacts. We’re working hard behind the scenes to create our own exhibitions and bring special shows to St Albans each year from major national galleries and every now and then we will have a paid-for exhibition like our current exhibition from the V&A.
The first four months alone saw over 100,000 visitors to the new museum and gallery, a number which hugely exceeded our expectations and touched the hearts of everyone involved in this ambitious project.
Six months in, and we estimate that over 160,000 people in total have now visited, many from outside the district: there have been more than 55 events, including craft events, full day family festivals, and evening adult workshops, and seven free, temporary exhibitions (including an exhibition curated by the touring arm of the Hayward Gallery in London) displayed across multiple galleries.
We have also run a series of Museum Lates, very popular with the major museums in London – where we have opened late into the evening with special themed activities, performances and talks, and hundreds of people attended these alone.
Local schools have participated in our new ‘History on Trial’ Courtroom re-enactment sessions and we’ve run multiple teacher training days.
Our latest, and current, exhibition is Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered, a major exhibition from the V&A Museum of Childhood. Showing in the newly created Weston Gallery, it’s a family-friendly exhibition celebrating the joy, excitement and occasional frustration of playing board games.
We are thrilled to be displaying over 100 of the most iconic, enthralling and visually striking games from the V&A’s outstanding national collection right here in St Albans. We’ll also be adding a local flair to the museum displays during this time and adding a few of the best games related items from the St Albans Museums collection too. Look out for objects such as the 12th century chess piece which was discovered on Chequer Street, or the special edition Monopoly which features St Albans as the ‘Mayfair’ spot.
To celebrate the opening of this new major exhibition – kindly sponsored by local firm, Taylor Walton Solicitors- a host of events and activities for all ages have also been planned. All activities are free and perfect for a festive day out.
So, even if you came six months ago, visit again as so much has changed. There is always something new to see, so come again over the Christmas period, and bring your visiting friends and relatives to this wonderful cultural resource right on your doorstep!
This article, By Farhana Begum, Marketing Manager, St Albans Museums, originally appeared in the Herts Advertiser.