Rejuvenation of historic Warrington building harks back to its original 152-year heritage
Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and Central Library to become ‘Warrington Museum & Library’ under new proposals to re-energise the building
Warrington Borough Council, LiveWire and Culture Warrington will launch a series of stakeholder discussions to outline the proposals that are aimed at enhancing the town centre library offer and creating a hub of creativity, heritage and learning
Warrington’s 152-year-old town centre museum and library building is to benefit from a rejuvenation project this Autumn aimed at re-energising the building as a creative hub for the town and increasing the links between the museum and library services.
The proposed changes, led jointly by LiveWire and Culture Warrington, will see a number of cosmetic changes made to the building as well as implementing a new combined ethos across the museum and library that will result in enhanced accessibility and increased collaboration in terms of opening hours, activities and exhibits.
The move would also see Sunday opening at the Museum & Library – a change it is hoped will enable more families to visit on weekends.
Also under the proposals the library would benefit from redecoration throughout, including new carpets plus the creation of immersive activity spaces, improved entry and access points; a new library counter, new branding, plus designated spaces for exhibitions and pop-up cafes. An accessible toilet is also planned for early 2020.
The two venues would also align and extend their public weekend opening hours for the first time as well as increasing private use opening hours.
The changes would mean the building is used exclusively for private groups on Mondays and Tuesdays to cope with increasing demand from the town’s schools and wider community groups.
The building would then be open to the public from 10am to 4.30pm on Wednesdays to Friday, 10am to 4pm on Saturdays, but also on Sundays between 11am and 3pm.
The new plans would mean a temporary closure of the building for around two weeks in Autumn, expected to be after the school holidays in order to minimise disruption.
During July, LiveWire and Culture Warrington, who run library, leisure, arts and heritage services on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, will undertake a series of stakeholder engagement sessions with the building’s users including education, library and heritage groups, to outline the proposed improvements and to give people chance to feedback on the proposals.
Cllr Tony Higgins, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Community at Warrington Borough Council, said: “Warrington Museum & Library is one of our literary and cultural gems, and these improvements, as well as giving the building a new lease of life, will provide an even better experience for the thousands of people who visit the building every year.
“This isn’t just about cosmetic improvements – as important as these are – but also about extended opening hours, increased accessibility, and, crucially, stronger links between our library, museum and arts services – something our new Libraries Strategy for Warrington strives to achieve. It’s an important part of our commitment to and wider investment in libraries, leisure and culture in Warrington.”
Emma Hutchinson, Managing Director of LiveWire and Culture Warrington, said: “The improvements we’re making at Warrington Museum & Library are intended to take us back to the building’s original use, which was envisioned some 152 years ago as a bustling hive of creativity, heritage and learning.
“The building has always been proud to host a number of creative services within its magnificent spaces but, for some years, they’ve been delivered very separately from each other. So, we’re intending to change that.
“Through this programme of work, we’re committed to delivering an integrated new hub of creativity and learning; a place that truly celebrates the rich heritage we have here in Warrington and that inspires learning for all ages.”
The intention is to also create a new “Friends of Warrington Museum & Library” group to support wider programming; boost the current education provision for the town’s schools; and improve the flow of library stock throughout the whole building, including special collections aligned to the calendar of museum, arts and creative activities.