Owned and managed by Shropshire Council, the new Museum & Art Gallery is the result of a ground-breaking restoration project that has cost more than £10m and seen two buildings - Shrewsbury’s Victorian Music Hall and the 13th century Vaughan’s mansion - renovated and restored to create a vast new museum and spectacular gallery space, together with function rooms suitable for meetings, conferences and even weddings.
Visitors to the new Museum & Art Gallery will go on a journey of discovery starting in the time when mammoths roamed, unlocking stories from across the entire county of Shropshire; stories of discovery and engineering creativity that influenced the world. The entire collection has been reimagined for a modern audience, with exhibitions exploring subjects from geology to natural history via art, archaeology and costume.
The Museum holds some of the nation’s most treasured Roman artefacts, including an ornate silver mirror discovered at nearby Wroxeter, one of only a handful still existing from the period. The Medieval galleries explore the development of castles, abbeys and towns in Shropshire. The Civil War period gallery highlights visits by King Charles I to the county with a grim reminder of his execution.
In the Shropshire Gallery there are many special exhibits including an area about scientist Charles Darwin, who was born and educated in Shrewsbury, as well as his contemporaries such as Henry Blunt, who mapped the moon. The links between the special geology of Shropshire and its famed ceramics industry see wonderful fossils displayed close to a collection of richly illustrated examples from the Caughley porcelain factory, which was once located near Broseley.
An exhibition from Frank Cohen’s internationally-acclaimed collection of contemporary art, specially curated for the launch, will also be on show from 1 April.
Alongside its permanent collections, Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery has invited a series of internationally-renowned contemporary artists and interpreters such as Shirley Chubb, Neil Brownsword and Ilana Halperin to curate and interpret the exhibits and create specially commissioned works.
The Frank Cohen exhibition features artworks by national and international artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, chosen for the way they resonate with the Museum's Darwinian theme. Around the building paintings from Shropshire’s huge art collection are on display.
The Museum & Art Gallery is the new location for the town's Visitor Information Centre and the starting point for walking tours, which will encourage visitors to go out and explore the living history of Shrewsbury and the wider county for themselves.
The ground floor of the Music Hall is home to a new cafe bar as well as a shop.
Admission to the Museum & Art Gallery including the Frank Cohen exhibition is just £4.00 per adult, £3.50 for senior citizens and £2.00 per child with reductions for seniors and groups. Entry is free for children aged 0 to 4.
Entry to the Roman and Pre-history exhibition is free.
The project has been funded by Shropshire Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council, the European Regional Development Fund, the Art Fund, the Walker Trust, and the Friends of Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery.
For more information visit www.shrewsburymuseum.org.uk or follow @shrewsmuseum on twitter.
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