Ipswich Museum addresses petition as it reassures history will be preserved

The Ipswich Museum will be undergoing renovations.

Ipswich Museum has a budget of over £8.7 million to carry out refurbishments. - Credit: Su Anderson

An £8.7m investment in Ipswich Museum will preserve its Victorian fabric and create an attraction that inspires a new generation say leaders in reassurance to a 5,000-strong petition against its redevelopment.

A spokesperson for Ipswich Borough Council, which operates the museum, has said the project seeks to reflect the diversity of Ipswich, while remaining true to its original Victorian style.

Many love the museum for its Victorian style of display.

Many love the museum for its Victorian style of display. The woolly mammoth remains a firm favourite. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The council sought to reassure those concerned and address any misunderstanding about plans for the High Street site, which first opened its doors in 1881. 

Thousands have signed an online petition over the redevelopment which objects to what it views as “[replacing] the emphasis from objects and their settings to written interpretations, photographs, screens and huge lettering” and “walls and original ironwork to be painted white.” 

A council spokesperson said: “The petition is based on a misunderstanding of the drawings we’ve used to provide information about the project.  

“The “white walls” simply represent that no decisions have been made about colours or how collections will be interpreted.  

“We published the images to give people something to talk about and, in due course, to help us to work out how best to showcase our collections – but didn’t expect this kind of reaction! 

“It’s great that so many people care as much as we do about what happens in the restoration and enhancement of the museum.”

This budget of £8.7 million will be the most significant investment the museum has seen in at least 40 years.

This budget of £8.7 million will be the most significant investment the museum has seen in at least 40 years. - Credit: Su Anderson

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Feature on Ipswich Museum.
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EADT LYNNE pics sarah lucy brown 3/8/11 Feature on Ipswich Museum. EADT 13.8.11 - Credit: Archant

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The museum has not had "significant investment" other than repairs in at least 40 years and will use the £8.7m to create more accessible facilities, new toilets, a cafe and a bespoke education space for schools.

The spokesman added that after consulting with local people, many felt the museum needed a “strong narrative and coherent story about the whole arc of Ipswich’s history”, which the redevelopments will seek to provide.  

They also wanted exhibits to have the opportunity to “shine through their displays” and be given the space to tell their story. 

The spokesman continued: “We would like to reassure those who are concerned that this redevelopment will respond sensitively to the Museum’s 19th century character, preserving the significant Victorian fabric and fittings in the Victorian Natural History Gallery, whilst also delivering the changes and interpretation of the space needed for a modern museum.” 

Further consultation will be held later this year with heritage groups, schools, community groups and individuals. 

A spokesperson for IBC said that the redevelopment will remain true to the original, Victorian style of display.

A spokesperson for IBC said that the redevelopment will remain true to the original, Victorian style of display. - Credit: Su Anderson

The refurbished museum is due to be opened in 2025.