Preview: Weston Museum opens today with Victorian fun day
PUBLISHED: 08:30 26 August 2017
A major attraction will re-open in Weston-super-Mare today (Saturday) following a two-year closure and £1.6million revamp.
Large parts of Weston Museum, in Burlington Street, will be unrecognisable when its doors open to the public again on Saturday.
Most of the building, including the shop, café, atrium and exhibition spaces have been freshened up or completely transformed.
Weston Town Council took over the museum six years ago, and has been planning its refurbishment ever since.
One major change is its accessibility. Previously, the first floor galleries could only be accessed by stairs, meaning wheelchair users could only see half of the museum.
A lift has now been installed, meaning the museum is finally available to everyone to view.
The museum boasts some objects of national importance, including two paintings by 18th century master Thomas Gainsborough, one of the country’s most important artists.
Work by Alfred Leete, who studied in Weston, are also on display. Leete is most well-known for his World War One ‘Your Country Needs You’ poster.
As well as a host of fascinating exhibits in the galleries, including a marine reptile fossil, Roman skeletons and medieval sculptures, there are plenty of old favourites on show.
Fans of the old amusement games will still be able to put some coins in the machine to watch an American execution, or the laughing sailor in action.
And Clara’s Cottage is currently untouched by the work – although the town council hopes to win further grant investment so it can revamp the cottage and create a Victorian street scene elsewhere in the museum.
There are big ambitions, too, for the museum’s future. It is hoped it will be seen as a museum of regional significance and it will be able to host national touring exhibitions in its new secure gallery space.
The project has largely been paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which provided £346,000 more than the town council asked for – a sign of its commitment to Weston’s museum. Further funds came from the Coastal Communities Fund, Garfield Trust and Art Council England.
The museum opens on Saturday at 10am, where there will be a Victorian fun day.
Admission will be free for the foreseeable future – but donations, spending in the café and shop and event bookings will ensure that remains sustainable.