Council urged to reopen Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in packed meeting


CAMPAIGNS wishing to reopen the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery held a council meeting to make their voices heard.

Swindon Borough Council’s curatorial cabinet voted to close the current gallery home at Apsley House and explore other options for displaying art and exhibits on Wednesday evening.

The move sparked a passionate impromptu speech from audience member Sandy Best.

As others walked out of the boardroom, Ms Best held up three T-shirts that her children had decorated during arts and crafts sessions at the museum before the lockdown.

She said, “What about the children? I’ve heard people tonight talking about the collection, exhibiting it and making sure people can see it – but what about the kids who need a place to go and something? thing to do now?

“My kids made these t-shirts at the museum, we have to think about what the kids need now and the damage they’ve suffered because they have nowhere to go.”

Former culture and heritage cabinet member Robert Jandy answered questions from the public and presented a report that recommended keeping the Bath Road building closed and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on repairs in order explore other ways to display the artefacts, including converting municipal office rooms. in Euclid Street.

Although many in the public gallery feared this would spell the end of Apsley House as a venue, Councilor Jandy said: “This is the start of the conversation.

“We have been criticized for not having more details, costs, etc., but we can only get them if this report is approved so that we can go out and get this information.

“If there are any problems, it will come back to Cabinet.”

He added: “This is about making the collection accessible to more people than those currently coming to the museum and gallery. It’s great to see the passion for the arts in this room.

“I want to involve the Friends of the Museum and the Art Gallery in all discussions. ”

Friends chairwoman Linda Kasmaty took issue with council’s opinion that Apsley House is not fit for purpose and will be too expensive to repair.

She asked if the council’s polls could be made available. Council lawyer Lisa Hall said she would look into the matter.

Old Town Labor adviser Jane Milner-Barry said city offices were not suited to accommodate a large art collection.

She said, “Look at these windows, single pane, steel framed, some don’t open, some don’t close. ”

As he and his colleagues voted to endorse the report, Councilor Brian Ford said: “I have some concerns about this building as a location. I would love to know more about how we can make it safer.


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