Outdoor space and coffee shop planned as part of £5m Ipswich Museum revamp

Ipswich Museum has been relatively untouched since the 80s and is in desperate need of rejuvenation 

Ipswich Museum has been relatively untouched since the 80s and is in desperate need of rejuvenation - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A bid for £5million in funding to transform Ipswich Museum is to be submitted this summer, with plans for a coffee shop, outdoor space and more exhibitions.

Ipswich Borough Council put aside £3.3million five years ago, with a view to use it for much-needed renovation of the High Street museum which hasn't been touched since the 80s.

The council will submit a bid for an injection of cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund in August and plans to fundraise the remaining £400,000 needed to carry out the project — a planning application has also been filed.

Councillor Carole Jones is the planning portfolio-holder for Ipswich and heavily involved in the project

Councillor Carole Jones is the planning portfolio-holder for Ipswich and heavily involved in the project - Credit: Su Anderson

Portfolio holder for planning Carole Jones said: "The really important thing is this amazing Victorian building which is just fantastic and the last time anything was done to it was the 80s.

"We're looking to have a new education space, a café and coffee shop, a new entrance and access points and a new outdoors space for people to sit in.

"There is hoards of stuff we'd like to share but there isn't currently the room to display it, a tiny proportion of it is on display, so the new plans would give us a lighter and airier space to do that.

"The natural history gallery is really much loved and we're giving the mammoth a room of its own to show its story."

Plans for the upgrade include a new entrance and access points

Plans for the upgrade include a new entrance and access points - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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The plans, if approved, will see the interior rooms of the museum reconfigured to improve accessibility and circulation of visitors.

A space will be provided for a new plant room as well as added toilet facilities. The outdoor courtyard space will be landscaped for use by visitors.

The current building struggles with a host of issues; the basement where collections are stored is prone to flooding posing a risk of damage, staircases are steep and corridors cramped, with many dark and enclosed spaces.

Less than half the annual visitors to the museum are from Ipswich, or live within a 30 minute drive, while a staggering 1,264,684 people come for the day and travel over 60 minutes to get here.

Ms Jones added: "There is a huge number of people who have wanted to visit the museum but never quite managed and we want to expand our audiences."

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