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8 June 2018, 12:11 | Updated: 8 June 2018, 12:19
It's taken two years and nearly £8m, but the new St Albans Museum and Gallery's now open!
The new attraction's in the City's Georgian Town Hall.
Visitors will be invited to enjoy a dynamic programme of events to celebrate the opening of this arts, heritage and cultural attraction in the newly-transformed building and best of all, it's free to visitors.
The site's staff say they aim to showcase more than 2,000 years of priceless heritage and host cutting-edge art exhibitions, sharing local, national and world treasures with all. National-touring exhibitions from top UK museums will also be available for visitors to enjoy for a small entry fee.
Housed within the Georgian Grade II listed Town Hall, built in 1831, this new museum and gallery will rejuvenate the cultural life of the City and beyond.
It is set over three floors, with a number of restored historic spaces and newly created state-of-the-art galleries. These spaces will be used to host regularly changing exhibitions and a vibrant programme of events. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the fascinating histories of the Town Hall, including its Assembly Room, Courtroom and Cells.
With the restoration and further additions, the Town Hall has been given a new lease of life.
The octagonal courtroom and prison cells, have been fully restored and preserved for future generations. Glazed links have been added to the first floor enabling visitors to walk around the entire building and to take in wonderful views of the City. A new temperature-controlled and secure basement gallery has been hand excavated under the building to house national touring exhibitions and contemporary art shows.
The ground floor has also been renovated to accommodate a learning studio, visitor information point, gift shop and café.
The project has been made possible with a £2.8m award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). St Albans City and District Council is also committed to providing £3.3m from the redevelopment of the museum's former Hatfield Road site for housing and developer contributions.
The University of Hertfordshire has played a key role in the completion of the project and there's been donations from Arts Council England, the Garfield Weston Foundation and many other organisations and individuals through the work of the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust.
A local community fundraising campaign has raised nearly £400,000 towards the project.
Taking pride of place within the newly-created basement gallery, the museum will celebrate the fascinating printing heritage of St Albans in its opening flagship exhibition, First Impressions. This exhibition will explore the rich history of a vital industry both locally and nationally, charting the development of printing techniques, technologies, and typographic design through the centuries.
Working in partnership with UH Arts, the University of Hertfordshire's arts and cultural programme, St Albans Museum + Gallery will also host a range of immersive art installations and displays.
Later in 2018, Hayward Gallery Touring will curate Hand Drawn, Action Packed; an exhibition bringing together ten major international artists whose practice explores the infinite possibilities of drawing.