PRS were appointed in March 2020 to help Ipswich Borough Council redevelop the Grade II*-listed Ipswich Museum. Designed by Horace Cheston in 1880 the building originally contained three separate functions: a public library, an art school, and a museum. Together with Mather & Co, our sub-consultant Exhibition Designers, we are developing proposals that seek to open up a currently contorted series of spaces into a single museum centered on the significant main Victorian Gallery.
Working closely with Historic England and various local stakeholders from the outset, we first developed a detailed Conservation Plan and series of Significance Studies that have allowed us to agree on major interventions and the repositioning of gallery spaces. The emerging proposals also allow for the creation of a vibrant new south-facing café that spills out to the newly landscaped museum courtyard.
The museum is home to an extensive collection including local art, archaeology, natural sciences, Egytoplogy and other world cultures. Together with Julia Holberry as Activity Planner and Yasmin Kahn as Cultural Consultant we are helping lead the team in a trail-blazing process of decolonising the museum and its collections, ensuring that a wider range of narratives are told and audiences reached. The Heritage Fund is supportive of this approach which touches on many of their key outcomes which seek to make heritage more accessible and representative. In the exhibition design, the synergy of a more themed approach has allowed for the ideas of its founder, John Henslow, who was Darwin’s tutor, to emerge in fascinating ways within the interpretation strategy of this unique collection that embraced a broader pioneering science.
Ipswich Museum recently ran a research campaign ‘Have your say’ which allowed people of Ipswich to voice their opinions and help shape the redevelopment. The project is actively developing ways of giving local residents ‘a sense of pride in their town’ to ensure this first-class museum remains at the heart of the community.
Web site links
Ipswich Borough Council