Northampton Museum expansion set to start in new year

Museum external view guildhall road
Museum external view guildhall road
Published: Monday, 19 December 2016

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is gearing up for its major revamp which will get under way at the beginning of next year.

The public part of the museum will close on Friday, February 19, when work will start to dismantle the displays so objects can be put into storage.

As soon as this work is complete, the internal strip-out will start ahead of the construction of a sizeable extension between the former Gaol Block and Guildhall Road sections of County Hall.

Once complete, the first phase of the extension will provide more space for the museum collection to be put on display and allow hosting of some major touring exhibitions.

There will also be a large-scale corporate hire and events space, broadening the town centre’s business offer with something uniquely memorable.

Cllr Anna King, Northampton Borough Council Cabinet member for community engagement and safety, said: “At a time when other museums are closing down or cutting back, we are making a huge investment in ours, which will help boost its fortunes and protect it for the future.

“During the extension and renovation, we will be running an appeal to expand and enhance the collection, and we have already been approached with donations linked directly with Northampton’s heritage.

“Our Cultural Quarter is going from strength to strength, with an enviable theatre and cinema offer, 78 Derngate, and a Leatherworking Centre of Excellence and creative workspaces in development.

“When the museum reopens in autumn 2018, visitors will be welcomed into a stunning new environment fitting for the wealth of fantastic exhibits we either own or have access to.”

Most of the work will be funded through the £8 million proceeds from the sale of the Sekhemka statue in 2014.

Contractors are set to be appointed to the project in the new year and a planning application will be submitted shortly thereafter, expected to go before committee in late spring or early summer.

The renovation is scheduled to start in earnest at about mid-year and take a little more than two years to complete.

Once finished, the expanded museum will feature:

  • New extension including new galleries and glass atrium linking the buildings
  • New temporary exhibitions gallery in the old Gaol Block
  • New Shoe Galleries
  • A Great Hall events space created
  • Schools and activity space
  • A shop and selling gallery
  • A café
  • The Hamtun and Shoe Town exhibitions, and current art gallery will remain

Later phases of the work, including the complete transformation of County Hall’s old Gaol Block, are expected to be paid for through fundraising activity and grants.

There will be pop-ups and school events at the museum during the renovation, but most of the school activities, along with some of the museum’s general activities, will be transferred temporarily to Abington Park Museum.