Art gallery updated in bid to bring more touring exhibitions to Ipswich

Ipswich art gallery.

Ipswich art gallery. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich Art Gallery is getting major investment to make it more attractive to major national shows.

And now the borough council is starting to make plans for a major upgrade to the town’s High Street museum – following its failure to get support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £20m redevelopment.

The Ipswich Art Gallery – previously the Ipswich Art School – was bought by the borough in 2010 and has already hosted a number of travelling arts shows as well as local exhibitions.

However there were restrictions on the shows it could host because of security and environmental factors – but it has now received money from Arts Council England’s “Ready to Borrow” funding which will allow improvements to be made.

Portfolio holder for heritage at the council Carole Jones said the improvements would improve the scope of the exhibitions that the gallery could host.

She said: “It has already attracted some very impressive exhibitions but these improvements will certainly make it even more attractive to those organising shows.

“There are new blinds for the lantern and other improvements to allow the gallery to be more secure for exhibitors.”

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The gallery opened with the Saatchi exhibition in 2010 and has had a number of high-profile shows since – including a very successful wildlife photography exhibition last year.

Details of the upgrade are included in the Colchester and Ipswich Museums’ service business plan for 2017-21 which will be discussed by councillors next week.

It will also hear that the borough is drawing up new plans for major investment in Ipswich Museum after the disappointment of failing to win Heritage Lottery Fund backing for the proposal two years ago.

This is likely to include improving displays, visitor facilities and new participation schemes for visitors.

However Ms Jones said it was still very early days as officials look at what might be possible to improve the museum – and there were no firm proposals at this stage.

She said: “It is something we will be looking at during the period of the business plan, but there is nothing set down about what will happen there at the moment.”