After five years in the making, one of England’s most celebrated medieval market towns is preparing to open the doors on a new landmark attraction. The Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery will welcome its first visitors on Tuesday 1st April 2014, with an exhibition from Frank Cohen’s internationally acclaimed collection of contemporary art, specially curated for the launch.
Shrewsbury’s Victorian Music Hall and a rare 13th-century mansion have been the focus of a groundbreaking restoration project that has cost more than £10m and created this vast new museum and spectacular gallery space. What began as a restoration project turned into a rescue operation as the level and complexity of the work required to the intricate structure of historic buildings that makes up the complex revealed itself.
Visitors to the new Museum & Art Gallery will embark on a journey of discovery which begins in the times when mammoths roamed, unlocking stories from across the entire Shropshire county and revealing how its unique history influenced the world. The entire collection has been reimagined for a modern audience, with exhibitions exploring subjects from geology to natural history via art, archaeology and costume.
The Museum holds some of the nation’s most treasured Roman artefacts, including an ornate silver mirror discovered at nearby Wroxeter, one of only a handful still existing from the period. There will also be exhibits inspired by the work of scientist Charles Darwin, who was born and educated in the town.
Alongside its permanent collections, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery has invited a series of internationally renowned contemporary artists such as Shirley Chubb, Neil Brownsword and Ilana Halperin to curate and interpret exhibits and create specially commissioned works. The Frank Cohen display will feature artwork by the likes of Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Charming Baker and Jake and Dinos Chapman, as well as pieces from rising stars championed by Cohen. The individual works have been chosen for the way they resonate with the Museum’s Darwinian theme.
Already much loved for its rich cultural scene and characterful streets lined with timber-framed Tudor buildings, this project, owned and managed by Shropshire Council, is a significant investment in Shrewsbury’s cultural tourism offer. The Museum will house the Visitor Information Centre and will also be the starting point for walking tours, encouraging visitors go out and explore the living history of the town and wider county for themselves. The ground floor of the Music Hall is also home to a new café bar and shop.
Admission charges to the Museum & Art Gallery, including the Frank Cohen exhibition, will be £4 per adult and £2 per child, with reductions for seniors and groups.
The project has been funded by Shropshire Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, the European Regional Development Fund, the Art Fund, the Walker Trust, and the Friends of Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
Open: 1 April – 30 September, daily, 10am – 5pm; 1 October – Easter, Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 4.30pm
For more information visit www.shrewsburymuseum.org.uk