Ipswich: Multi-million pound museum heritage bid seeks public support

Ipswich Museum

Ipswich Museum - Credit: Archant

The town’s bid to show off its heritage in a multi-million pound redevelopment of the High Street museum has stepped up a gear.

The borough is asking local people what they would like to see in a redeveloped museum before it submits a £10million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The aim is to create a “heritage hub” for the oldest English town which would include the museum itself, the Ipswich Art School building whose purchase was completed at the end of 2011, the High Street Gallery, and the Wolsey Studio Theatre which opens on to St George’s Street but is physically linked to the museum.

About 48,000 people visit the museum every year – but the Colchester and Ipswich Museums service, which now runs the building, is hoping to attract even more.

It has set up an online questionnaire on its website – www.cimuseums.org.uk – asking for suggestions on how the museum could be made more appealing.

It is not making any suggestions about what might happen – but is asking for ideas from visitors.

One proposal is that part of the building should be turned into a specialist “National Trust-style” cafe to attract visitors who might not otherwise make a trip to the museum.

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Ipswich Museum reaches out to many parts of the world – you can meet a woolly mammoth, an elegant towering giraffe and other curiosities from the natural world.

You can discover past civilisations across the globe, and even take a trip down the Nile in the Egyptian Gallery.

Ipswich Museum also gives an insight into the town and surrounding area’s intriguing past. You can take a journey through Suffolk’s past from the Iron Age to Romans and Saxons.

Ipswich councillor with responsibility for culture and heritage Bryony Rudkin said the move was vital to the lottery application.

She said: “We need to know what people want from their museum – and what would encourage them to come in more.

“A few weeks ago I visited the museum in Exeter which is quite similar to our museum in many ways. It was interesting to see how that is run, but we really want to hear what local visitors here would like to see.”

The lottery bid will take several years to complete, and there are several stages to pass through before it could be granted.

Should £10million be spent on creating a heritage hub based at Ipswich Museum? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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