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