NEW images have been revealed showing the next stage of investment in updating and remodelling one of Leicester’s most popular free family attractions.
The latest phases of plans to improve the interior of Leicester Museum and Art Gallery include a new café space with outside seating at the front of the museum, incorporating a new entrance from New Walk which will enable the café to stay open after the rest of the museum is closed.
The café will occupy the space which previously housed the Wild Space animal display. A glass roof and original columns, currently hidden within exhibition space, will be revealed in the new plans.
Other improvements include creating a new modern art gallery in the former ground floor space used for the Ancient Egypt exhibition, which is now in a larger gallery upstairs.
A new visitor route is planned from the modern art gallery through to the nearby Council Room and Victorian Gallery. The Victorian Gallery’s stage will also be moved and roof lighting will be upgraded.
Work has already been completed on creating a new Leicester Stories community gallery, designed to reflect the city’s recent history, culture and communities, and created with the involvement of more than 200 city residents.
A number of lifts, stairs and ramps throughout are being upgraded to improve access and ease the flow of visitors around the galleries.
Improvements have also been made to staff offices and toilets, as well as repairs to roof windows, and bringing lifts and stairs up to modern standards.
Work on the new galleries is due to begin in December 2023 and should be completed by autumn 2024.
The new café area will be installed from June 2024, while work to create a new gallery in the former café area will take place from April 2025.
Leicester deputy city mayor for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, said: “Investing in our museums is essential to ensure that future generations of visitors get to explore and learn about our natural history, our art collections and exhibits which reflect the history and character of this city.
“The current layout of the museum does limit how it can be used, but we have already begun altering and improving it.
“These latest plans will really help make best use of this fascinating, historic building, and also enable it to accommodate higher numbers of visitors. We are also improving accessibility to ensure that this important, educational building remains available to all visitors now and in the future.”
Leicester Museum and Art Gallery opened back in 1849 as one of the UK’s first public museums and today houses galleries dedicated to Ancient Egypt, dinosaurs, natural history, the Victorian art gallery, arts and crafts, the Attenborough Collection of Picasso Ceramics and an internationally renowned collection of German Expressionist works among others.
The museum attracts around 200,000 visitors each year – making it one of the most popular free attraction in the East Midlands.
Reconfiguring the layout and upgrading the gallery spaces will help it reach a new target of accommodating up to 300,000 visitors each year.
The planned works would be funded by a combination of Arts Council England funding for urgent museum repair works, maintenance budgets and the council’s capital programme.
Leicester Museums and Galleries is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.