The Plymouth ‘History Centre’ (working title) is a major £34m scheme in the heart of Plymouth city, a symbol for the city’s current regeneration and a museum for the future. The vision is to transform the existing Museum and Art Gallery, the adjoining Central Library and St Luke's Church buildings into a new, unique visitor attraction. The name for the development should be available by Spring 2017. Many ideas have been put forward by the Friends and by the public.
The Central Library has taken on a new site at the corner of Armada Way and Mayflower Street, at the top of town.
St. Luke’s Church behind the present museum is to be a building for incoming works of art and as a cultural centre for Plymouth. The Friends hope to see this for all the arts groups within the city, including all ethnicities, to be able to display their form of art such as music, dance, plays, paintings, ceramics, metal works etc.
The new development will enable to shine a light on the city's collections and make them more available to Plymouth residents and visitors to Plymouth, in a way which has not been done before.
The ‘History Centre’ is expected to open as the flagship building for Plymouth's Mayflower 400 commemorations in 2020. The vision is to have the following themes:
Sir Francis Drake and Scott of the Antarctic.
The city’s relationship with the Royal Navy both past and present.
Plymouth’s part in the sailing of the Mayflower to America 400 years ago.
Life below the water to include marine life and shipwrecks.
Exhibition space to celebrate Plymouth’s prehistoric landscape.
Galleries highlighting the west country’s artistic legacy to include Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Cottonian Collection and the Newlyn Artists.
The Plymouth City Council (PCC) are currently in the Development Phase - an intense period of planning and consulting. While there may not be much to see while all this preparation is taking place behind the scenes, this is an exciting time for everyone involved and is the period during which the final concepts and ideas for the ‘History Centre’ will be firmed up.
What will it look like? What will it contain? How will people use it? How will they interact with it? What do we the Friends and the PCC want it to achieve? These are the questions we are currently considering. We the Friends see it as starting a journey through the heritage of Plymouth, when entering the front door.
A considerable amount of work has already taken place. Staff from the partner organisations have been seeking advice and knowledge from other cities and cultural centres, as well as looking at best practice and good working models. The main partner organisations are SWFTA (South West Film & TV Archive), SWIB (South West Image Bank), the Library Archives and the PWDRO (Plymouth & West Devon Record Office). These organisations are spread around the city at present, but eventually they shall be brought together in the new building giving better access for the residents of Plymouth and visitors who need to know more about the heritage of Plymouth.
Work has been carried out with world renowned consultants on the design, content and organisational development aspects of the project. At various stages throughout this process they have also been consulting with us the Friends and the wider public to seek opinions and test out ideas. The Development Phase is now complete and the building work begins in early 2017.
During the three-year closure of the Museum and Art Gallery, the Friends must decide whether to change our name and constitution to fit in with any new Objects and Aims. In addition, we must keep our members aware of the progress of the development, and keep up our regular coffee mornings and trips out to special places of interest. We also need to increase our membership to reflect the upgrading to the new attraction and to get people to come with us on this historic journey.
The Friends have supported this innovative venture from its inception and look forward to seeing the building work in progress, and the finished development opening in the Spring of 2020.