Work begins on new home of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Work begins on new home of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Work will soon begin on creating a new home for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

The council’s statement comes after campaigners said it ‘wasn’t good enough’ for his former home at Apsley House to remain closed.

The group made one last attempt to urge Swindon The borough council changed its mind on the fate of the Grade II listed building in the Old Town in September.

The protest followed a report that recommended the venue remained closed and was sold.

Today, Linda Kasmaty, chair of Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery (FSMAG) and Save our Museum and Gallery (SoMAG), wonders what happened to items previously housed in the gallery .

She said: “Like many venues, Apsley House has closed due to the pandemic. Unlike other venues, it remains closed.

“So the collections have been put in storage and the people of Swindon can view some of the artwork through interesting but small exhibitions called Art on Tour.

“The Save our Museum and Art Gallery (SoMAG) has asked the council to ensure that the collections have suitable accommodation until then. In December 2021, the Cabinet decided to convert the entire top floor of the civic offices into a museum and art gallery. . So far so good. But something is not quite right.”

According to FSMAG, in March 2019 the council estimated it would cost £1,864,000 to convert the first floor of council offices, and the group adds that they now claim it will cost £400,000.

He demanded answers from the board about the difference in numbers, but got no response.

Ms Kasmaty added: “Our rapidly growing city is already identified by the Arts Council as having low cultural engagement. It’s shameful. A significant part of our culture is locked away somewhere, out of sight.

“For the past two months we have been trying to meet with the Cultural Adviser, Robert Jandy, to discuss when we will have a suitable museum and art gallery for the town. Swindon is at risk of becoming a bedroom community, with huge housing estates and no facilities. Instead, let’s create a place for all of us to enjoy and start valuing what we have.”

To read Ms. Kasmaty’s letter in full, Click here.

In response, Councilor Robert Jandy, Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Leisure and Town Center Experience, reiterated that Apsley House on Bath Road was no longer fit for purpose.

He said work was underway to design and finalize detailed costs for the conversion of the civic building so that it can display more collections and be more accessible to visitors.

Mr Jandy said: “It’s really important.

“Swindon’s collection of modern art is superb, and it deserves to be displayed in a place and in a way that everyone can enjoy. Inevitably, it’s a complicated process, and there are procedures that we must follow.

“A planning application to change the use of the civic building has been submitted and a program of works will be drawn up around a major upgrade of the elevator which will make it possible to make a large part of the collection visible as soon as possible. .

“Much of the work can be done in-house and we are confident that officers are now able to continue the important work of converting the municipal offices and providing the facilities expected by Council and its residents.

“Collections are currently stored in accordance with conservation requirements and the art on display at the Civic Campus has been refreshed and looks fantastic.

“A ground floor room has also been converted to give a taste of what the new facility will look like and I would encourage anyone interested in seeing our fabulous works of art to visit our Celebration of Color exhibit for see for themselves.”

Dora W. Clawson