New homes for council treasures

NEW galleries for Ipswich council's most historic exhibits could be opened in the rebuilt town hall when it reopens last year.Ipswich council is considering opening first and second floor rooms as museum galleries when the building reopens after its conversion into a customer care centre early next year.

NEW galleries for Ipswich council's most historic exhibits could be opened in the rebuilt town hall when it reopens last year.

Ipswich council is considering opening first and second floor rooms as museum galleries when the building reopens after its conversion into a customer care centre early next year.

The town hall galleries would show the social history of the town – and would give the borough the chance to show off more of its works of art, many of which are currently kept in storage.

The cultural strategy also proposes to undertake major improvements to the town's parks – Christchurch Park, Chantry Park and Holywells Park are to be improved with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

At Holywells Park the council is hoping to develop a new butterfly house as part of the restoration of the historic orangery.

And the cultural strategy also outlines proposals to close the film theatre in the Corn Exchange complex and move this to a screen at the town's Odeon Cinema.

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This would enable the floor of the existing film theatre to be flattened and for it to be used for other events.

The move is likely to have all party support – in principal.

The former Labour administration had initially proposed the move, but its plans were mothballed when the current administration took over last September.

Labour leisure spokesman John Mowles said: "This was certainly an idea we were looking at and were quite a long way advanced in negotiations with the Odeon.

"In principal it is certainly something we would support – but we haven't seen the figures and what the cost implications are. We haven't been invited to take part in this review," he said.

Council culture spokeswoman Judy Terry said the opening of new galleries would enable more of the council's collection to be displayed.

She said: "Much of the council's collection hasn't been seen for years or decades. This will give us the chance to put a lot more on show.

"We want to make Christchurch Mansion the place to go to see fine art, make the museum an interactive educational resource and use the town hall – right in the heart of Ipswich – to show off the social history of the area."

The council is also hoping to appoint an Arts Development Officer and also plans to sponsor arts festivals in the town.

There would be an annual Ipswich Festival and a WinterFest based on the Waterfront.

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