Museum prepares for construction of national centre for Thomas Gainsborough
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 August 2019 | UPDATED: 06:31 03 August 2019
The director of a Sudbury museum said he is "filled with excitement" ahead of a temporary move to allow work on a multi-million pound transformation project to begin.
Gainsborough's House - the birthplace and childhood home of Thomas Gainsborough - is to become a national centre for the famous artist.
The major project will double the size of the museum, with a new wing built for three new exhibition spaces and a new creative learning studio - featuring views over the Suffolk countryside.
The project will allow the museum to show exhibitions of international appeal and reach a wider audience, as well as boosting Sudbury and surrounding areas economically.
The £8.7million scheme has been made possible through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund along with private donations, and work will start this autumn with an expected completion date of spring 2021.
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Staff will vacate the site at the end of October, but will move next door - 47 Gainsborough Street - to open a temporary information point in November while the 18-month construction project takes place.
The information point will provide regular updates on the museum's redevelopment, opportunities to book hardhat tours of the construction site, and will sell Gainsborough merchandise and books.
Mark Bills, director at Gainsborough's House, said: "Closure can be inconvenient, but it is also a necessity and allows us to draw a line before transformation. "It fills us with excitement that we can focus solely upon our future vision and look forward to the moment we welcome our supporters as the first visitors to the new building."
MORE: Scheme will turn Gainsborough's House in Sudbury into 'major national cultural destination'
The museum has also launched a 'buy-a-brick' scheme where supporters can sponsor a brick for £20 to form the new galleries and a distinctive crinkle-crankle wall, which will provide a boundary for the garden.
Everyone who sponsors a brick, which are being supplied by Sudbury company Bulmer Brick and Tile, will be thanked in a special commemorative book.
Mr Bills added: "Sponsoring bricks is a great way to get involved. These bricks are a local material, so we are supporting Suffolk industry as well helping to build a beautiful feature for the site."
Anyone wishing to sponsor a brick can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01787 372958.
Visit www.gainsborough.org for more information.