Museum & Art Swindon ready to open to the public

A new facility to showcase one of the country’s best collections of modern and contemporary 20th Century British art will open to the public on Tuesday (9 July).

Published: Friday, 5th July 2024

Museum & Art Swindon

Museum & Art Swindon has moved from Apsley House in Bath Road, Old Town, to the Civic Offices in Euclid Street in order to make the Council’s incredible collection of artwork and artefacts more accessible to more people.

The former museum and art gallery was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and did not reopen due to significant repairs that needed to be made to the building and concerns over its limited accessibility.

Officers at Swindon Borough Council have since been working to transform the first floor of the art deco Civic Offices building in Euclid Street to provide a home for the Borough’s first-class collections.

On display will be one of the museum’s famous Lowry paintings, as well as a perfume bottle created by Sir Grayson Perry. The history of Swindon is showcased through diverse material ranging from one of Swindon’s earliest inhabitants - the fossil remains of the Welcombe Avenue Ichthyosaur from around 155 million years ago. 

More recent examples of Swindon's history will include empty vaccine vials from the COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at STEAM – where for a brief period in 2020, Swindon led the world in the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19.

The new venue, which is free to enter, will provide around 40 per cent more display space, compared to its previous home, and will also provide improved working conditions and additional areas for staff, volunteers and researchers, presenting an opportunity to restart the museum and art gallery’s volunteer programme.

There is also a space specifically for school trips, providing a classroom and lunchroom area for visitors to the new museum.

Opening exhibitions for the museum include:

  • Elisabeth Frink: A View from Within – produced using the Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation funding through Wessex Museums
  • Double Take - explores inspiration and creativity using artworks from the Museum & Art Swindon collections alongside works produced by 200 Swindon school children
  • Pieces of Me - an exploration of identity through art, co-curated with young people from Swindon
  • Origins - an exhibition showcasing some of the diverse material collected by Museum & Art Swindon since its inception
  • The History of Swindon - galleries telling the history of Swindon from the Jurassic period up to today

During its opening week, the museum will be open from Tuesday to Sunday (10.30am to 4.30pm) with family activities also being planned for that weekend.

On Saturday, 13 July, this will include family Art Lab sessions, where participants can try a bite size costume design session, create a costume collage or try paper weaving. The following day (Sunday, 14 July) there will be History Detectives sessions, where visitors will be delving into the world of Saxon Treasure and have the opportunity to design their own Saxon brooch or sword.

Councillor Marina Strinkovsky, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Placemaking, said: “I’m thrilled that we’re finally able to open this amazing museum and provide a new home for Swindon’s impressive collection of art and artefacts.

“People might be wondering ‘where’s the gharial?’, well don’t worry, that’s the next project for the museum staff. There’s already a project underway to bring the gharial into its new home at Museum & Art Swindon – hopefully arriving by the end of the year!

“This is just the start of our plans to improve Swindon’s art and culture offering and I’m excited that our Arts and Cultural Strategy will be available for public viewing later this month.

“We’re committed to building a better Swindon and having incredible museums such as this one, not to mention STEAM and Lydiard House, is a big part of that.”

Councillor Jim Robbins, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “I’m proud of the team and the Council for getting this museum over the line.

“The Civic Offices is a fantastic building and having Museum & Art Swindon located here is only going to make it a bigger part of Swindon’s offering.

“I’m excited to see people enjoy the art we have within our collections and to learn more about our history before the railway.”

Linda Kasmaty, Chair of the Friends of Museum & Art Swindon, said: “We’re very pleased and excited that Museum & Art Swindon is opening and look forward to continuing to support them in their new premises on the first floor of the Civic Offices, and publicising the museum and art gallery which we predict will become a cultural beacon, attracting visitors from not only within Swindon but surrounding areas.

“We’re looking forward to being able to see some of the magnificent Swindon collection of 20th Century art again as well as the new interpretations in the museum.”

Along with the new venue, a new website was also launched for Museum & Art Swindon and can be found here.

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