Major plans have been revealed for Warrington’s 152-year-old town centre museum and library building to re-energise the site.
Under the plans, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery and central library, on Museum Street, are set to become Warrington Museum and Library.
LiveWire and Culture Warrington – who run library, leisure, arts and heritage services on behalf of the council – will undertake a series of stakeholder engagement sessions with the building’s users this month to outline the proposed improvements.
The sessions will also give people chance to provide feedback.
But the scheme would mean a temporary closure of the building for around two weeks in the autumn, which is expected to be after the school holidays in order to minimise disruption.
Cllr Tony Higgins, cabinet member for leisure and community, welcomed the blueprints that are aimed at re-energising the site as a ‘creative hub’, while increasing links between museum and library services.
He said: “Warrington Museum and 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.”
The changes would 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 and library – a change aimed at enabling more families to visit on weekends.
Furthermore, 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.
And 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 Saturdays, but also on Sundays between 11am and 3pm.
Alan Yates, chair of LiveWire, said: “The improvements we’re making at Warrington Museum and 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.”
Maureen Banner, chair of Culture Warrington, added: “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.”