Big changes on the way at museum
ONE of Suffolk's top rural museums is today turning a page in its history books by embarking on a major expansion plan.Stowmarket's Museum of East Anglian Life is set to sign on the dotted line for an expansion into the neighbouring historic Abbots Hall.
ONE of Suffolk's top rural museums is today turning a page in its history books by embarking on a major expansion plan.
Stowmarket's Museum of East Anglian Life is set to sign on the dotted line for an expansion into the neighbouring historic Abbots Hall.
The museum will take on a long-term lease for the grade II listed building and gardens tomorrow.
The move has been in the pipeline since the end of last year and is an attempt to build on its 20,000 annual visitor numbers and boost the town as a tourist destination.
Tony Butler, director of the museum, said: "We intend to make the site one of the best visitor attractions in the region.
"I have a dream of a time four or five years in the future when the museum is full of visitors fascinated by the sights, sounds and smells of the past.
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"We will make it a prime venue for tourists and a great resource for local people."
Duncan Macpherson, county councillor for Stowmarket and museum trustee, said: "We've been working for years to reach this point.
"We can now look forward to seeing the development boosting the museum and putting Stowmarket very much on the map."
The 70-acre open-air site at the museum currently houses displays of rural life and reconstructed history.
After taking over Abbots Hall it plans to apply for lottery funding and aims to create an area of special scientific interest by the Rattlesden river, research and restore the 18th century gardens and hold open days.
Gordon Paton, mayor of Stowmarket, said: "The signing of the lease is a major development for our museum.
"It will provide a new amenity for the town and preserve one of its finest buildings for future generations.
"The museum will be able to fulfil its exciting plans, making it one of East Anglia's top tourist attractions.
"It will boost the town's economy and is great news."