Stunning plans showing how Plymouth’s museum and art gallery will be transformed into a new world class visitor attraction are being submitted to planners this week.
The plans include striking new images showing the impressive new building featuring a cantilevered ‘floating’ box with reflective cladding will form the heart of the £34 million History Centre.
They impressive contemporary building designed by architects Atkins, nestles behind the existing museum and art gallery frontage. Existing buildings will be converted into interactive and fun exhibition spaces containing galleries that will include a giant mammoth, a flotilla of historic ships, massive original figureheads and interactive maps that you can walk through.
The plans show how impressive exhibition and gallery spaces will be created to show off existing collections in exciting and innovative ways as well as new flexible spaces that will host some of the best exhibitions from around the country.
The centre, which is to be renamed in advance of its opening, will have a total of 3,500 square metres of gallery and exhibition space, including five permanent galleries, five exhibition spaces for local and national touring exhibitions and six spaces that can be used for specific artistic projects.
A major Mayflower exhibition will feature in one of the main galleries when the centre opens in time for Mayflower 400 in 2020.
Galleries will also celebrate and explore subjects such as Plymothians who have been influential on the world stage such as Drake and Scott of the Antarctic; the city’s relationship with the Royal Navy; life in Plymouth below the waterline, including marine life and shipwrecks; Plymouth’s prehistoric landscape and the West Country’s artistic legacy, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Cottonian collection and the Newlyn School of Artists.
There will be also multi-media spaces using the latest technology to enable people to explore the thousands of images and films that form part of the South West Image Bank and the South West Film and Television Archive.
Council leader Tudor Evans said: “We’ve got some of the best people out there working on this and the concepts look incredibly exciting. They’ve come up with a really striking building and some of the interior spaces will be jaw-dropping.
“This centre will be a complete game-changer for arts and culture in Plymouth. It will not only explore Plymouth’s amazing history in new and exciting ways but it will also bring world class arts and culture right to our doorstep.
“I can’t imagine that there’ll be anyone in Plymouth who won’t be able to get excited about exploring it. There’ll be something for everyone, whether they are bringing their kids for a fun day out, exploring their family history or visiting a top class arts event. We’ll have events and exhibitions right on our doorsteps that you’d currently have to travel hundreds of miles to see.
“It is also great for Plymouth and will create hundreds of jobs and boost the city’s economy by increasing the number of day visitors to Plymouth and overnight stays.”
The proposals will turn Tavistock Place into a public square, something that it used to be before the current museum and library was built in the early part of the 20th century. A pedestrianised piazza will provide a space for events and street entertainment and high quality food outlets, will transform the location creating a new external destination in the city for visitors.
Opening up Tavistock Place allows the museum to include a refurbished St Luke’s to be converted to a large art gallery that will open up Plymouth and the South West peninsula to major touring exhibitions. The contemporary extension to the museum is designed to stand out and announce the importance the city places on protecting its precious archives.
Councillor Peter Smith, Deputy Leader, said: “The History Centre is by far the biggest and most exciting culture and heritage project that the South West has seen for many years. Plymouth has played an incredible role in the history of the region and the world and this is something we need to shout about.
“But it’s not just about attracting visitors to spend money in the city. This will be an incredible resource for our residents, our schools, local historians. We are working with our partners to create somewhere people can learn, research and feel a sense of pride in Plymouth, as well as just have fun.”