Swindon Museum and Art Gallery will be moved to municipal offices
Apsley House – the current home of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery – will not reopen.
The collection held there will be removed to allow the building to be sold by Swindon Borough Council – and work will begin to prepare the upper floor of the Euclid Street municipal offices as a temporary gallery and museum.
And advisers have been told that a new exhibition space could be ready by the end of the year.
Swindon Borough Council review committee members accepted the Conservative cabinet’s decision to go ahead with the closure of the 1830s building in Bath Road and work on ways to show the collection of art and artifacts in municipal offices – possibly as well as Lydiard House – and continuing with the traveling Art on Tour exhibitions.
But before the decision was ratified, heritage, culture and recreation cabinet member Robert Jandy and director of strategic growth and development Richard Bell were faced with an in-depth cooking grid of the proportion of councilors and members of the public who had turned up in large numbers.
Mr Bell had told the committee that once officers were ordered to move the work forward, the upper floor of the city offices could be ready to open its first exhibit by the end of the year.
He added: “There’s more floor space in the civic than at Apsley House, it’s more accessible, we’ll be able to show more of the collection. The only major job that needs to be done is on the elevator.
“The work that should be done at Apsley House would take longer and it wouldn’t be as good or as accessible as it is here at Town Hall.”
A sum of £ 400,000 which had been allocated two years ago for repairs to Apsley House will now be used for works on Euclid Street to allow an exhibition there.
One of the members of the public, Rod Hebden, questioned the council’s amounts.
He said: “We looked at how much it would cost to open here.
“It’s between £ 4.5million to sing it all, dance everything to £ 1.8million for something more modest, or you might just have very few works on display, maybe just one. Which one will it be, or are we going to get the pound version? ”
Mr Bell said: “We have expert costs, and they are very different from yours.”
Councilor Roger Smith said: “The Cultural Quarter is years away and in light of this council’s questionable track record on regeneration projects, what is the impact if this building becomes the permanent home of the collection? ”
Mr Bell said it could cost around £ 1 to £ 1.8million and added: “It wouldn’t be worse, and in many ways better than what we have at Apsley House.”