As you may know the Plymouth ‘History Centre’ (working title) is a major scheme in the heart of the city, a symbol for Plymouth's current regeneration and a museum for the future. The vision is to transform the existing Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke's Church buildings into a new, unique visitor attraction. The real name of the development should be available by April 2016. Many ideas have been muted by the Friends and also by the general public.
The Central Library will be taking on a new site at the corner of Armada Way and Mayflower Street. This should be completed by the middle of next year.
St. Luke’s Church behind the museum is to be a building for incoming works of art and also 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 ‘History Centre’ will enable to shine a light on the city's collections and make them more available to local residents and visitors to Plymouth, in a way that have 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:
· Rooms which celebrate the Plymouth individuals who were influential on the world stage such as 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 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 us the Friends and the PCC want it to achieve? These are the questions we are currently considering . We see it as starting a journey 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 and the idea is to bring them all together in one place. SWFTA is down the side of the Treasury Restaurant, Catherine Street; SWIB is housed at 25 Parade, Barbican; PWDRO is based in Clare Place, Cattedown.
Work is now being carried out with world renowned consultants on the design, content and organisational development aspects of the project. At various stages throughout this process they will also be consulting with the Friends and the wider public to seek their opinions and test out ideas. The Development Phase will continue until the building work begins in late 2016/early 2017.
The most recent milestone was the Mid Stage Review with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Project leaders took a series of detailed reports to a meeting with HLF, all of which contained the latest thinking and designs for the ‘History Centre’.
The meeting was positive and the team were congratulated on the quality of the submissions with a very positive letter. So they are progressing well where the HLF are concerned, and should be ready to put in their second application in April 2016.
The Mid Stage Review does not involve a formal sign off, but it does mean that the HLF are very happy for PCC to continue with their Development Phase.
Later this autumn they will be revealing where they have got to with the design work to the Friends, the public and all of their associated partners. This will be the first time they will share their vision in detail with the public.