Arts Council investment boosts plans to transform St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery

Arts Council investment boosts plans to transform St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington.

St Barbe due to close on 10th September for building work to begin.


st barbe artist impressionMultiI-million-pound plans to turn Lymington's St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery into a flagship heritage venue have been given another boost. The museum has received a grant of almost £150,000 from Arts Council England (ACE), which praised the “exceptional” quality of exhibitions staged in the former school. It comes just months after the Heritage Lottery Fund gave St Barbe £1.78 million towards the cost of the proposed new facilities. The eagerly-awaited scheme comes with a price tag of more than £2 million and museum trustees say they still need to raise almost £100,000.


St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery in New Street, Lymington, will close to the public at the end of the day on 10th September for the refurbishment, which includes bigger galleries, a new-look cafe and an eye-catching entrance. It will re-open in July 2017 with a major exhibition by eminent sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood and wildlife expert and broadcaster Chris Packham. Community events and exhibitions are planned in the area for the nine months the building is closed.


Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: “St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery does an exceptional job in providing high quality exhibitions and artefacts for local people and visitors to enjoy. We are delighted to be investing £149,400 through our Museum Resilience Fund to help them secure a stronger and more resilient future.”


The Arts Council grant will be paid to St Barbe over two years, and will enable the charity to pay for specialist audience development and marketing, including digital development, together with continued fundraising support. The ACE funding will also make possible an enhanced fit-out of new retail area – café, shop, visitor information point, and allow for rebranding and superior signage.


Fundraising has been imperative for St Barbe supporters, as the conditions of the HLF grant mean that the museum and gallery had to raise at least £525,000 for the project. St Barbe Museum Director Mark Tomlinson said: “We are delighted that the community has got behind our fundraising appeal and I would like to thank everybody who has supported us. We still have £98,000 to find, so our campaign continues.” 


He added: “St Barbe is indebted to Arts Council England for their support and their shared belief in our ambition to become a regionally significant museum and Art Gallery.”


St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery opened its doors for the first time in 1995 after a group of local people joined together – determined to tell the historical story of their town and the coast and forest villages surrounding it. It began life as a museum in a room but has since expanded to fill the whole of the former Lymington school, and gathered more than 18,000 items, each one telling its own part in the story of this magical area ‘By Sea and Forest Enchanted’. More than 25,000 people a year now visit St Barbe, not only to enjoy the museum but also to see the art galleries, which host an exclusive programme of exhibitions that regularly include works on loan from national and regional collections.



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