13 things to look out for when the museum reopens

Celebrations will soon be taking place at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery which will finally be reopening on Saturday, 23 April, after an extensive restoration project.

The Grade II-listed building, which also houses the town centre library, has been undergoing vital roof repairs in the region of £360,000 to ensure it is fit for purpose for generations to come.

The relaunch plans have been even longer in the making though because the building has been shut since December 2020 due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

Here is what you can expect when the doors reopen.

  1. A relaunch party with a family-friendly takeover of the whole building

The doors will reopen on Saturday, 23 April, with a nature and environment-themed celebration between 10am and 4pm which is completely free to attend. It will include trails and treasure hunts and drop-in activities such as crafts and storytelling as well as workshops and performances.

  1. Three new exhibitions

Ruby Tingle, Christopher Shaw and Steve Sutton have all been patiently waiting for the museum to relaunch to display their new work. Ruby’s Lagoons has been inspired by the museum’s amphibians and reptiles collections, Steve’s Precarious Existence explores issues of climate change and sustainability while Christopher’s figurative and abstract paintings explore a wide range of concepts. These temporary exhibitions will be available to view until 26 June as Culture Warrington continues to champion new and emerging talent in the area.

  1. A new mural in the Archives and Local History department

Don’t miss Padgate painter Cameron Brown’s latest work that has been under wraps for many months. The new mural was paid for by an anonymous donor, who had used the archives services over a number years. They wanted to give something back in thanks for all the help and encouragement they had received and in recognition of all the enjoyment they’d had learning about Warrington’s history. The mural shows a jumble of people and places from Warrington’s past crowding around a Walking Day procession and the flowing river Mersey. The donor worked with Cameron to choose a selection of people and places to be included in the mural, some familiar and some relatively unknown. The people and buildings shown represent various aspects of life in Warrington and areas that can be researched in the town’s archives. Eagle eyed visitors may even notice a few famous Warrington animals dotted about the painting.

  1. An update of the Warrington story

Previously, the story of Warrington in the museum finished in 1945 when the Second World War came to an end. The museum team have delved more into Warrington’s transformation as a new town and how the borough developed post war.

  1. New installations by contemporary artists Daisy James and Christine Wilcox-Baker

Daisy James’ ‘Work in Progress’ will be going into the Warrington Story gallery after making its debut at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces: Warrington (the former M&S in Sankey Street). It was originally commissioned by Culture Warrington as part of Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival and Time Machine Festival and responds to the town’s identity and changing landscape as somewhere to live and work. Christine Wilcox-Baker’s Winnie the Wire Weaver is also on the move. It was commissioned as part of the Wireworks project to commemorate the many women who worked in the Warrington wire industry.

  1. Crafternoons will be back in their original home

Kids’ free craft activities will resume at the museum, taking place every Saturday between 1pm and 3pm. The fun and relaxed drop-in sessions are recommended for children aged three plus and there is a different theme each week. There will also be Easter school holiday craft activities on Wednesday, 27 April, and Friday, 29 April, at the same time.

  1. A celebration of famous Warrington artists

Henry Woods and Sir Luke Fildes both trained as artists in Warrington and this will be recognised more when the museum reopens its doors. Thanks to the support of ArtFund, three paintings have been acquired by Culture Warrington to be put on public display for the first time.

  1. A tribute to Van Gogh

Thanks to the generosity and dedication of Warrington painter Denis Holder, visitors to the Central Library can experience some of the work of one of the world’s most famous artists. Denis has painstakingly recreated more than 30 of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings. They will be displayed, usually one or two at a time, and be rotated every four weeks.

  1. Making the museum more accessible

In partnership with Warrington community group Mulan Culture, Warrington Library will offer a collection of books in simplified Chinese when it reopens. Mulan Culture has donated and catalogued a variety of books for all ages.

And looking ahead…

  1. Jubilee celebrations

Warrington groups such as the Warrington Signing Choir, Mulan Culture and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service will be joining forces for a Jubilee themed day of activities and crafts on Saturday, 4 June, between 10.30am and 2.30pm. There will also be refreshments and a theatre workshop performance by Imagining Histories. A second Jubilee celebration will then take place on Saturday, 18 June, with free family-friendly activities led by dance artist Stacey Atkinson and community artists and storytellers, Story Stitchers. Further details to be announced soon.

  1. The return of Litfest

Central Library is one of a number of venues for Litfest 2022 which takes place between 4 and 11 June. Highlights include meet-the-author events with Martin Edwards and Sarah Ward but the area’s writing and poetry groups will also be showcased with taster sessions and events for all ages.

  1. Folktales in the library

Culture Warrington has commissioned Kindred Folk Dance Theatre to bring ‘Lost’ to the library – a family performance based on a folktale. Lost will take families ‘across the seas’ with dance and music to tell the story of a girl whose voice was frozen in her throat with three performances on Saturday, 11 June.

  1. Ground-breaking dance theatre

The museum team are hoping to make the building more of a performance space in future and in that spirit Culture Warrington has commissioned a new live piece by the acclaimed Company Carpi. Dance choreography will meet a string quintet for When You Light a Candle, You Also Cast a Shadow – a moving work inspired by the seasons and climate issues taking place on Saturday, 25 June.