Multi-million pound works to make museum among 'best in country'

Proposed changes at Ipswich Museum have sparked debate. A budget of over £8 million has been awarded to the museum.

Proposed changes at Ipswich Museum have sparked debate. A budget of over £8m has been awarded to the museum. - Credit: JASON NOBLE LDRS

An £8.7m project will make Ipswich Museum "one of the best museums in the country" as it looks to make renovations to the Grade II attraction. 

The renovations will include an elevator, “slight” modifications to the front entrance, modernised lighting, new toilet facilities and a coffee shop. 

The National Lottery Heritage Fund awarded the museum £4.3m for the project, with backing from Ipswich Borough Council bringing the total to £8.7m. 

Ipswich Borough Council offered reassurances after an online petition was launched against the proposals, reaching more than 1,300 signatures on Monday. 

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council, which operates the museum, said: “We have won many awards for the present museum and we look forward with confidence to winning many more as we become one of the best regional museums in the country.” 

The online petition objects to what it views as “[replacing] the emphasis from objects and their settings to written interpretations, photographs, screens and huge lettering” and argues that “an irreplaceable example of cultural heritage will be lost.” 

One signatory said: “The impact of a Victorian style display should not be underestimated.”  

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The council spokesman said: “All of the old favourites will be in the new museum as well as the opportunity to display many more.  

“Although much loved and with high visitor numbers, we want to create a more appealing and exciting museum experience to which people, particularly local Ipswich visitors, will want to keep returning to.” 

Cllr Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for museum, said: “The museum will improve in so many ways - there will be better access, a new café, and a lot more space for exhibits.  

“Ipswich Museum is a Grade II listed and this gives us an opportunity to restore and conserve this precious and important building.” 

The council added that the early gallery plans are at this stage purely indicative, and follow a number of phases of consultation including an online survey that had engaged more than 1,000 local participants.  

The council concluded: “We have a process for dealing with petitions; these are considered and a formal response to the petitioner is delivered.  

“We have not received a petition about the museum and will follow this process if we do.”