An exploratory study will consider the feasibility of turning Alnwick’s historic Northumberland Hall into a museum.
Northumberland County Council, the Trustees of Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery and Alnwick Town Council have been in discussions about the possibility of relocating the Bailifgate Museum and Gallery into the more spacious Northumberland Hall in the centre of Alnwick. A £15,000 grant, awarded through the Architectural Heritage Fund, will help fund a feasibility study to fully evaluate whether the historic hall would be suitable for such a use.
The Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery is currently located in a Grade 2 listed former church. It is run by volunteers and delivers high quality exhibitions which celebrate the history, traditions, culture and arts of north Northumberland. It also showcases the work of local national and international artists. It currently attracts around 10,000 visitors a year but relocating it to a more central location would, it is hoped, increase visitor numbers and audiences and provide more room for additional exhibitions.
Jean Humphrys, chair of the Trustees said: “We love our Museum building in Bailiffgate, and appreciate that being able to lease this building through His Grace, The Duke of Northumberland’s Trust, put us in a very privileged position which has allowed the Museum to grow and develop over the years. When the Museum started in 2002, we had no idea how successful we would become.
“Our success and our wish to do more to tell the story of Alnwick and to bring new and exciting exhibitions to local people has made us realise that we need more space. It is a testing time for Trustees and, in the current climate we need to be forward looking, resilient and sustainable. In reality, there are very few options available and even fewer that are affordable. “
The proposal which could find a long-term solution to this underused and central building has been backed by Alnwick Town Council and Northumberland County Council, although it is stressed that a thorough consultation will take place to get the views of local residents.
Once the findings of the study are known and if Northumberland Hall is deemed to be suitable and manageable, the Trustees will set out plans for raising funds to furnish the Northumberland Hall as a Museum. If the Hall is not suitable, the Trustees will continue to deliver as much of their ambitious programme as possible. Whatever happens there will be no immediate change and Trustees will make sure that the people of Alnwick are kept up to date with any progress and decisions.