Museum receives single £32,000 donation
A MYSTERY benefactor has donated £32,000 to a major appeal run by the birthplace museum of Suffolk artist Thomas Gainsborough, it has emerged.Officials at Gainsborough's House, in Sudbury, which houses the world's largest collection of the artist's work, launched a £500,000 appeal fund earlier this year to expand and enhance the tourist attraction.
A MYSTERY benefactor has donated £32,000 to a major appeal run by the birthplace museum of Suffolk artist Thomas Gainsborough, it has emerged.
Officials at Gainsborough's House, in Sudbury, which houses the world's largest collection of the artist's work, launched a £500,000 appeal fund earlier this year to expand and enhance the tourist attraction.
The donation has now taken the appeal fund to the halfway mark, allowing work on the first stages of the three-phase project to begin.
It is believed the £32,000 donation was made by a person who lived in the Sudbury area as an evacuee during the Second World War. Their identity is to be revealed at a special celebration being held at the museum next week.
Museum curator Hugh Belsey said: "I am delighted to receive the donation, there is a really nice story behind it that will be revealed next week. It means we have now reached the halfway mark of the appeal, which is fantastic news.
"The fund will allow us to keep the museum at a high standard and make it even better than it is now. We are Sudbury's top attraction and we want to make available to an even wider audience, which has to be good for the town."
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With £250,000 already raised for the museum, it is hoped the target figure will be reached by the end of the year.
Work on the first phase of the scheme has already begun. Two weavers' cottages that adjoin the house – where Gainsborough was born nearly 300 years ago – are currently being converted into an education centre, shop and café.
The 80-seat education facility will be made available to local children and used for meetings, lectures, courses and corporate entertainment.
Phase two will focus on the museum itself with refurbishments to give the historic building a new lease of life.
Work will include increasing space for the Gainsborough collection and contemporary exhibitions and new environmental controls to ensure the 18th Century works are kept in ideal condition.
The final phase of the project will be to create a study centre to provide easier access to Gainsborough's work.