First came news that GAINSBOROUGH’S HOUSE in Sudbury, birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough, had received Heritage Lottery Fund support of £4.73 million, including a development grant of £280,700, to transform itself into a national centre and one of the region’s leading heritage museum and galleries.
Then came the announcement of a further £1.9 million worth of support for the LONG SHOP MUSEUM in Leiston, beginning with an initial £161,200 towards Transforming the Long Shop, which will finally realise long-awaited plans for the restoration and redevelopment of this unique industrial site. Alongside vital repairs and structural work the redevelopment project will include new displays and activities, a community hub, reminiscence cafe and Youth Shed, where young people can gain basic engineering skills.
The revitalised Gainsborough’s House is expected to open to the public by late 2020/ early 2021, although first there is the task of raising £2.77 million of required match funding. Plans include a major new three-level purpose-built gallery that will be able show more of the museum’s collection and be able to accommodate large-scale exhibitions, and will incorporate a top-storey Landscape Studio and learning space with a camera obscura, which will provide stunning views. There will also be a Community Gallery to complement the printmaking workshop on site.
The new National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art in Newmarket is also another recent beneficiary of course. All in all, it seems, Suffolk’s museum sector has reason to be thankful to National Lottery players everywhere!