St Albans Museum and Gallery birthday celebrations

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News release: 04 June 2019
St Albans Museum + Gallery. Credit: Elyse Marks
News release issued by St Albans Museum and Gallery









  • Over 330,000 visitors in the first year (65% over target of 200,000 and compared to 17,000 in previous museum)
  • 135+ events including workshops, family crafts, festivals, lectures, comedy nights and tours
  • More than 12,000 adults and children have taken part in activities in the museum
  • Welcomed 33 different nursery, school and college groups which adds up to over 2,200 students and teachers
  • Exhibitions and installations from 18 contemporary artists as well as Edgar Wigram and Barbara Hepworth
  • Shortlisted for approximately 15 awards and won 6 of them
  • Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53, is the most successful exhibition to date.
 
The St Albans Museum + Gallery celebrates its first birthday and is proud to announce that it has welcomed 330,000 visitors in its first 12 months: a huge 65% more than expected.

After years of restoration work to the former Town Hall building, the museum was opened to the public on Friday 8 June 2018 by local schoolchildren and the 2018 Mayor of the City and District of St Albans, Cllr Rosemary Farmer. It proved to be a bumper weekend with more than 10,000 people visiting in the first three days.

Since then, St Albans Museum + Gallery has welcomed more than 330,000 visitors (smashing its yearly visitor target of 200,000); displayed a total of 17 exhibitions and art installations; and put on more than 135 events and activities.

Visitors have flocked to the flagship museum in St Albans City centre time and again to see regularly changing exhibitions and art installations. Highlights include Liz West's Our Colour Reflection, which now features on an ITV ident; First Impressions which explored the history of printing in St Albans; and touring displays from the V&A and The Hayward Gallery. The latest exhibition in the Weston Gallery, Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53, continues to inspire visitors and is the most successful exhibition to date.

As well as 135 different events, including family festivals, drop-in activities, lectures and comedy nights, the museum has also seen 33 different nursery, school and college groups visit, equalling more than 2,200 students and teachers.

Kate Warren, Museums Manager said: "We're incredibly proud of everything that's been achieved over the last 12 months. To go from 17,000 visitors a year at the old Museum of St Albans to 330,000 at this new one is brilliant. It's great to see visitors regularly coming back to see what's new at the museum and even better seeing them get involved in all the events and activities."

A year on from opening, the museum is celebrating by holding a birthday party over the anniversary weekend. Decorated with bunting and with free activities and exhibitions on offer, visitors are invited to the museum on Saturday 8 June and Sunday 9 June to come and create birthday cards, and play giant games in the Assembly Room.  The first 100 visitors will also receive a free cupcake from 10am on Saturday to enjoy in the Courtroom café.
 
Cllr Anthony Rowlands, Portfolio Holder for Community Leisure and Sport at St Albans City and District Council, said: "St Albans Museum + Gallery has been a significant and popular addition to our city's heritage and artistic offering.  The staff, admirably supported by our volunteers, have delivered a strong programme of events and activities.  As a former history teacher, I am well aware of the value of an effective museum service.

"Enabling the new museum to grow and evolve sustainably in the coming years is an important challenge."

Cllr Mandy McNeil, Portfolio Holder for Business, Culture and Tourism, said: “This is fantastic news. Especially in the light of  recent published data from the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), which showed that, although the overall number of overseas tourists to the UK decreased last year, visitor numbers to Britain’s museums and galleries increased by nearly 9%. 

"Our history, and our cultural hubs have always attracted visitors, and it is great to see that St Albans has clearly got it right with this new museum and gallery and that it is attracting a significant number of visitors to our city, as well as providing a wonderful central place for the local community to enjoy regularly.”

The St Albans Museum + Gallery project was made possible with a £2.8 million award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. St Albans City and District Council is also committed to providing £3.3 million from the redevelopment of the museum's former Hatfield Road site for housing and S106 developer contributions. 

A special partnership with the University of Hertfordshire has played a key role in the realisation of the project. There have also been generous donations from Arts Council England, the Garfield Weston Foundation and many other organisations and individuals through the work of the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust.

For further press information, images and interview requests, please contact:
Farhana Begum, Marketing Manager, St Albans Museums
 
NOTES TO EDITORS
  • St Albans Museum + Gallery opened its doors to the public on Friday 8 June 2018 following a £7.75m two-year restoration of the City's Georgian Town Hall.
  • St Albans Museum + Gallery is the newest addition to the portfolio of museums and heritage sites run by St Albans City and District Council's museums service. 
  • For more information about Verulamium Museum, the Hypocaust, the Clock Tower, Sopwell Ruins, or the field archaeology unit and associated excavations, please visit www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk or call 01727 864511
  • St Albans Museum + Gallery is free to visit and open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday, 11am - 5pm Sunday
Follow @stalbansmuseums on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for latest news and updates.
 
About St Albans Museum + Gallery
St Albans Museum + Gallery is the newest addition to the collection of cultural heritage sites managed by St Albans Museums. It joins Verulamium Museum, the Hypocaust, the medieval Clock Tower, Sopwell Ruins and the thousands of objects in the City's collection in being cared for and shared with the world. Set to be a world-class centre for arts and culture at the heart of one of Britain's most historic cities, St Albans Museum + Gallery is free to all visitors. It showcases over 2,000 years of priceless heritage and hosts cutting-edge art exhibitions, sharing local, national and world treasures with all. National touring exhibitions from top UK museums will also be available for visitors to enjoy for a small entry fee. For more information, visit www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk