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Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and Central Library to close for two weeks next month to undergo revamp

Warrington’s town centre museum and library building is to close for two weeks next month to undergo an exciting revamp aimed at rejuvenating the building and forging closer links between the museum and library.

The changes, led jointly by LiveWire and Culture Warrington, will see a number of cosmetic improvements made to the historic building as well as the aligning of opening hours and activities, including family-friendly Sunday opening for the first time.

The venue,  which is over 150 years old, will close at 4pm on Saturday 31st August (the library will shut at 1pm) and will reopen on Saturday 14th September, after which it will be open to the public from 10am to 4.30pm on Wednesdays to Fridays, 10am to 4pm on Saturdays, and on Sundays between 11am and 3pm.

On Mondays and Tuesdays the building will be used exclusively for private bookings to cope with increasing demand from the town’s schools and wider community groups, as well as corporate use.

Any items borrowed from Monday, 12 August have had an extended loan period until the library reopens.  During the closure period members can return, renew or borrow books at any other LiveWire library as normal.

Improvements to be made during the revamp include:

  • Redecoration throughout the library
  • The creation of immersive activity spaces
  • Improved entry and access points
  • The relocation of the library counter
  • Designated spaces for exhibitions and pop-up cafes in the library
  • A small merchandise offer
  • Improved branding and signage

In addition, funding has been sourced with the intention of paying for three new bespoke murals in the Museum & Library, a large-scale map of Warrington in the entrance hall of the library and a multimedia ‘augmented reality’ app for use in the building.

There are also plans to rename a number of the rooms in the building to commemorate people though history who have made a cultural contribution to the town – details to be announced soon.

July and August saw LiveWire and Culture Warrington – who run library, leisure, arts and heritage services on behalf of Warrington Borough Council – hold a series of stakeholder engagement sessions.

These were with building users including education, library and heritage groups and outlined the proposed changes giving people chance to feedback on the proposals. Two public feedback sessions were also held.

Cllr Tony Higgins, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Community at Warrington Borough Council, said: “The work on the museum and library is part of our wider work to make our libraries more sustainable.

“The improvements and changes made to the building will help us cater to the various different groups and residents that use the facilities, making the museum and library even more enjoyable to visit.

“We’re very proud of our libraries and the work that goes in to keeping them exciting and accessible for all.”

Emma Hutchinson, Managing Director of LiveWire and Culture Warrington, said: “We’re committed to delivering an integrated new hub of creativity and learning; a place that truly celebrates the rich heritage we have here in Warrington and that inspires learning for all ages.

“The stakeholder and public engagement sessions showed us just how many groups and people are passionate about the building and the treasures housed within it, and the services it offers – which was really gratifying to see.

“We believe the changes being implemented next month are realistic and sustainable – while allowing us to try to broaden the accessibility of the Museum & Library, and attract more people of a weekend, which is going to be crucial as the town centre continues to develop.

“We believe these changes are the best way for the future direction of the building and services, but we will of course be monitoring closely, and reviewing regularly.”

The intention is to also create a new “Friends of Warrington Museum & Library” group to support wider programming; boost the current education provision for the town’s schools; and improve the flow of library stock throughout the whole building, including special collections aligned to the calendar of museum, arts and creative activities.

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