The new £7.75 million St Albans Museum + Gallery will open its doors to the public on Friday 8 June following a two-year restoration of the City’s Georgian Town Hall. Visitors will be invited to enjoy a dynamic programme of events to celebrate the opening of this arts, heritage and cultural attraction in the newly-transformed building.
Set to be a world-class centre for arts and culture at the heart of one of Britain’s most historic cities, the St Albans Museum + Gallery will be free to all visitors. It aims to showcase over 2,000 years of priceless heritage and host cutting-edge art exhibitions, sharing local, national and world treasures with all. National-touring exhibitions from top UK museums will also be available for visitors to enjoy for a small entry fee.
Housed within the Georgian Grade II* listed Town Hall, which was built in 1831, this new museum and gallery will rejuvenate the cultural life of the City and beyond. It is set over three floors, with a number of restored historic spaces and newly created state-of-the-art galleries. These spaces will be used to host regularly changing exhibitions and a vibrant programme of events. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the fascinating histories of the Town Hall, including its Assembly Room, Courtroom and Cells.
With the restoration and further additions, the Town Hall has been given a new lease of life. The beautiful historic spaces, such as the octagonal courtroom and prison cells, have now been fully restored and preserved for future generations. Glazed links have been added to the first floor enabling visitors to walk around the entire building and to take in wonderful views of the City. A new temperature-controlled and secure basement gallery has been hand excavated under the building to house national touring exhibitions and contemporary art shows. The ground floor has also been renovated to accommodate a learning studio, visitor information point, gift shop and café.
The project has been made possible with a £2.8 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund. St Albans City and District Council is also committed to providing £3.3million from the redevelopment of the museum’s former Hatfield Road site for housing and S106 developer contributions. A special partnership with the University of Hertfordshire has played a key role in the realisation of the project. There have also been generous donations from Arts Council England, the Garfield Weston Foundation and many other organisations and individuals through the work of the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust. A local community fundraising campaign has raised nearly £400,000 towards the project.