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Bid to broaden museum and art gallery's appeal
THE arts and culture scene of Swindon is booming with its museum at the heart of developments, according to council staff.
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, in Bath Road, is already a centrepiece in Old Town’s leisure sector, but new management, starting next week, are keen to broaden its appeal and attract the wider community to visit.
Helen Miah, 47, the commissioner for leisure, libraries and culture at Swindon Council, is taking over direct management for the museum with Sophie Cummings, 32, by her side as curator.
“The location has been important to the museum’s identity, but we need to broaden its appeal,” said Helen.
And Sophie added: “What we can see is Old Town has a flourishing arts scene, with more and more being created by people local to the area.
“Whatever the future holds for Old Town, Swindon is part of a fantastic cultural scene and we want to make the museum a larger part of that.”
The art collection which is housed alongside the museum is regarded as one of the best examples of British 20th century art outside London.
The museum has displays of local history, archaeology and geology, plus a showcase on Swindon’s Jurassic past, its connections with the Roman Empire and more recent social history.
“The feedback we have is incredibly positive. We have a very good collection of modern British art which people will make long trips to see,” said Sophie, who has supported the museum since summer 2012.
“Over the next few months there will be some minor changes to the museum. “We will be changing the displays and making the content look far fresher.
“We want the public to see more of what we have, more often.
“The gallery and the museum work together in the same building quite nicely. “Local families like to come and see the stuffed crocodile, mummy and playroom, and they will often take a peek at the gallery whilst they are here.”
Helen, who has previously organised Swindon’s Big Arts Day, has made it her mission to engage more of the public with the museum and gallery than ever before.
“People do love the museum and gallery,” she said. “It’s a bit of a gem, but it needs some tender loving care.
“It is loved by all, but is a little bit demanding and time consuming.”
Tara Winfield, 38, an Old Town resident visiting the attraction with her daughter, said: “I have always known it was here, but didn’t really know what was in here.
“Other parents have told me how much fun their kids had here, so I wanted to bring mine along to enjoy it. There is so much to see here; even dinosaur bones, which we didn’t expect.”
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