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Redevelopment begins at art centres

By Bedfordshire On Sunday  |  Posted: August 12, 2011

The art gallery and museum in Castle Lane

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Building work to redevelop Bedford Borough Council’s Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum has started.

The redevelopment will boost this popular part of Bedford with new galleries, spaces for learning activities and corporate hire, collection stores, a shop and café. The new art gallery and museum will serve as an excellent resource for local people to explore and discover their heritage, as well as providing a major attraction to draw visitors to the area.

Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson said “The beginning of the building work marks an exciting stage in the redevelopment process.

“It represents a big step towards realising the vision for a new Art Gallery and Museum that will provide a place for residents of the borough to explore, discover and be inspired. Central to this project is our desire that more residents of all ages come to experience and enjoy their Art Gallery and Museum in the heart of Bedford.

“Each and every one of the amazing objects in the collections has a story to tell about how it came to be here in Bedford; who made it, who used it, who collected it and why.

“With the work now under way, we look forward to its completion and to the reopening of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery and Bedford Museum for the whole community to enjoy.”

Once the works have been finalised, the new galleries will display objects in the collection that have never before been on show, as well as returning some old favourites to pride of place.

Among the new displays, nationally significant collections of work by the Victorian architect-designer William Burges and the 20th century designer-printmaker Edward Bawden will be housed in dedicated galleries. New exhibition space will also allow the hosting of touring exhibitions from national museums, as well as displays from the Art Gallery & Museum’s outstanding watercolour and print collections.

The building works are scheduled to last for 11 months, followed by 6 months’ refitting of the galleries.

This redevelopment has been made possible by £3.2 million funding from Bedford Borough Council, as well as a grant of £959,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £100,000 from the Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, £500,000 from the Wixamtree Trust, £500,000 from The Bedford Charity, £350,000 from the Monument Trust, and £200,000 from Charles Wells Ltd, in addition to funding from a number of other sources.

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