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HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND AWARD £959,000 TO ART GALLERY & MUSEUM PROJECT
Bedford Borough Council’s flagship arts and heritage facilities Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum has secured an award of £959,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards the planned redevelopment of the facilities, specifically for improvements to buildings and the fit-out of new exhibition spaces. The award will signal the start of the work at the Art Gallery & Museum following confirmation of the Council’s £3.6m investment earlier this year.
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said:
“This is great news for the Borough. The injection of nearly a million pounds, added to the Council’s £3.6 million investment and other generous contributions means that we will be able to start work to turn the exciting plans into a reality. We want to make Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum the place to go for residents to enjoy art and culture, meet friends and bring visitors to the Borough.”
Cllr Doug McMurdo, Portfolio Holder for Arts and Leisure, at Bedford Borough Council, added:
“We are delighted with this announcement, and thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for this award, which will allow us to work and pull the facilities together. The art gallery and museum are already home to excellent exhibits - now we plan to display them in a high quality venue which will help make Bedford Town Centre an even more attractive place to visit.”
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, East of England, said:
“This exciting project will completely transform Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum, making the wonderful collections fully accessible to local communities and offering new opportunities for people to learn from and enjoy them. It will help draw together the cultural heritage of Bedford and tell the stories of communities across the town and local area. This redevelopment has the potential to reinvigorate this heritage site, making them a key heritage attraction in the heart of the town.”
The £6.6m Redevelopment Project will involve the complete redesign and redisplay of the galleries in Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum. The revitalised buildings, with new galleries, collection stores, spaces for learning activities and corporate hire, shop and café will be an excellent resource for local people and visitors to Bedford right in the heart of the cultural quarter at Castle Lane.
This major grant will enable the Borough Council to progress the project to the next stage, namely to work up detailed building and exhibition designs and place the work out to tender; tenders are then expected back in March 2011, followed by the works starting in May 2011. The works, including the design of new exhibition spaces and displays, are expected to take approximately 18 months with the facilities re-opening in late 2012 or early 2013. Meanwhile Bedford Museum will close on Sunday 17 October, following which all museum artefacts will be carefully packed away and stored off-site in readiness for the works.