Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We can't wait to see you on 21st June 2013

We are very excited to announce that we will be re-opening on the 21st June 2013 with a Dawn till Dusk celebration.

The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: The opening of The Higgins Bedford is a tremendously exciting event for Bedford town centre, marking the creation of a major cultural attraction for local residents and visitors to enjoy. Internationally renowned art will be on display in the very best modern facilities, while the story of Bedford Borough will be brought to life in the state-of-the-art surroundings. The redeveloped Higgins Bedford belongs to us all, and I hope local people of all ages will come along time and again to enjoy what is on offer. 

In the face of extremely challenging economic conditions we have a stream of town centre regeneration projects coming to fruition, bucking the trend of decline for high streets elsewhere. Together these projects and the major investment in our town centre will increase footfall dramatically and send the clear message that Bedford town centre is a vibrant, enjoyable place to visit.      

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, who have supported the project with a £959,000 grant said: “It's exciting to see this project come to fruition. These are wonderful collections and it's fantastic that they are going to once more be available for those who know them from old as well as whole new audiences.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, who have supported the project with a £959,000 grant said: “It's exciting to see this project come to fruition. These are wonderful collections and it's fantastic that they are going to once more be available for those who know them from old as well as whole new audiences.”

One of the first exhibitions at the redeveloped facility will be A Sense of Place; an exhibition of artwork by ten community groups that have worked with The Higgins Bedford over the course of the redevelopment. Curated by artists Alex Julyan and Lucy Wilson, the exhibition explores the groups responses to a sense of place. The show will feature works by Aragon Lacemakers, Barford Avenue textile group, Pavenham Rushwork, Beds Garden Carers and many more.

Already new displays have been prepared, and many familiar (and less familiar) objects are returning to the building. The Zodiac Settle, designed by William Burges, will be on display for the first time since it was acquired in 2011. The settle (a kind of canopied bench) will be displayed in the new Burges Gallery, a hexagonal room with a dramatic vaulted ceiling, alongside the rest of the spectacular collection of his furniture.

The opening of The Higgins Bedford provides the finishing touch to the Cultural Quarter in the Castle Quay area of Bedford Town Centre. The redeveloped facility completes a comprehensive regeneration which has already seen the exposure and interpretation of archaeology in the grounds of Bedford Castle and newly opened restaurants, bars and shops adding to the vibrant atmosphere.

The major transformation and successful redevelopment of the Higgins Bedford has only been possible thanks to the commitment and support of donors and trustees, and Bedford Borough Council would like to thank them for championing this project throughout.

We want to thank you all for your support throughout the project. We really can't wait to see you. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


The building work that began back in August 2011 has been progressing very quickly. We've been taking photographs every few weeks to chart the progress of the project. Each time I visit, it feels tremendously exciting to see the new spaces emerge from the old. Below are a few photos showing the changes that are afoot.

The museum entrance August 2011.
The art gallery entrance August 2011.
The old art gallery entrance will soon be gone. The museum entrance will be extended to make a new entrance and shop.

By the end of August the internal spaces of the Art Gallery & Museum were completely stripped back.

Removing the staircase
September 2011
 The main stairs in the art gallery foyer will make way for new gallery space.

No. 33 in July 2011
No. 33 has been demolished.
Seating for the new cafe will be here.

There is lots of work being done on the roof. November 2011

Floorboards are up in the Victorian house as new wiring goes in. November 2011
It is odd to find that buildings we have been so familiar with for so many years are no longer so familiar. Stairways and doorways have been blocked up, whilst new ones are beginning to appear. There are weeks and months of building work still to come. We look forward to seeing even more dramatic change in the near future.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Building work begins at Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum

Its been a busy few days at Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum. Builders have moved in and begun work at the site. We're really excited that this dramatic phase of the redevelopment has begun. We'll be keeping you up to date with all the news here on the redevelopment blog as well as over on our main blog.
The beginning of the building work represents a big step towards realising the vision for a new Art Gallery & Museum. Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford said “With the work now under way, we look forward to its completion and to the reopening of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum for the whole community to enjoy.”

Work beginning at the site.

The building works are scheduled to last for 11 months, followed by 6 months’ refitting of the galleries.
Once the works have been finalised, the new galleries will display objects in the collection that have never before been on show, as well as returning some old favourites to pride of place. Among the new displays, nationally significant collections of work by the Victorian architect-designer William Burges and the 20th century designer-printmaker Edward Bawden will be housed in dedicated galleries. New exhibition space will also allow the hosting of touring exhibitions from national museums, as well as displays from the Art Gallery & Museum’s outstanding watercolour and print collections.

The Zodiac Settle by William Burges will be on display in the William Burges Gallery.

There will be lots more space to display the Edward Bawden Archive, including this illuminated manuscript 'A general guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Spring and Easter 1923'

This redevelopment has been made possible by £3.2 million funding from Bedford Borough Council, as well as a grant of £959,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £100,000 from the Trustees of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, £500,000 from the Wixamtree Trust, £500,000 from The Bedford Charity, £350,000 from the Monument Trust, and £200,000 from Charles Wells Ltd, in addition to funding from a number of other sources.