Town Hall Museum
The St Albans Museum + Gallery opened on 8 June 2018 after the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust raised £1.7 million from the public, charitable trusts and local businesses to fund the project. Photos of the work in progress is shown below.
Catherine Newley from the Museums and Caroline Eldred and Mike Gray from the Museums & Galleries Trust have recently been interviewed by Radio Verulam. You can hear recordings of their 15-minute talks here and here.
New book about St Albans old town hall
A new book charting the history of St Albans iconic old town hall is being published by the St Albans & Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society this September. The author Chris Green, former director of St Albans Museums, will be signing copies of his new book at Waterstones in St Albans at lunchtime on Saturday 2 September.
During his time as director of St Albans Museums Chris Green worked in the old town hall and over the years has studied almost every inch of the building. He has drawn on his extensive knowledge and experience to write this definitive, fully illustrated guide to its history and use over almost 200 years. Original plans for the neo-classical building by architect George Smith are included in the book.
The old town hall originally served as a place of local justice, with the local seat of government occupying just one large room. In 1851 the Bribery Commission held court in the building to investigate the ‘cash for votes’ scandal that resulted in St Albans losing its parliamentary representation for a period of time.
Below we produce the press release from when the project commenced.
St Albans Museum And Art Gallery Project Chooses Architects For Major £7.75m Renaissance Project
Architects John McAslan + Partners and exhibition designers Urban Salon have been appointed to develop the plans for St Albans’ new museum and art gallery project
The new museum and gallery will transform the Grade II* listed Town Hall in the heart of St Albans to showcase 2,000 years of the City’s heritage. St Albans City and District Council is working with St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust and the University of Hertfordshire Galleries on the £7.75m project.
John McAslan + Partners has extensive experience in the regeneration of heritage buildings. This award-winning practice was responsible for the redevelopment of King’s Cross station. It also transformed the Camden Roundhouse, a former a steam engine repair shed into a culture and entertainment venue. The practice’s ethos of creating architecture to improve people’s lives will be particularly relevant in redeveloping the Grade II* listed Town Hall for public use and advice from English Heritage will ensure the building’s continued protection.
Cllr Annie Brewster, Portfolio Holder for Sports, Leisure and Heritage for St Albans City and District Council, said: “The appointment of architects and designers is a real milestone along the road to delivering a wonderful new state-of-the-art museum and art gallery in the centre of St Albans. “They will bring their impressive proven design talents to help transform our beautiful Grade II* listed Town Hall into a great visitor attraction for our City..”
Urban Salon will design a dynamic and flexible exhibition space to showcase over 2,000 years of the City’s heritage and the museum’s collection within the Town Hall. The space will be used to provide community learning and enjoyment and to accommodate a contemporary exhibition programme for art and culture. The design studio will also create a flexible exhibition kit including display cases which will enable the museum to evolve and adapt its displays easily. Urban Salon was selected for their extensive experience of museum design and interpretation projects. Their previous clients include the British Library, Victoria & Albert Museum and Southampton City Council’s SeaCity.
The new museum and gallery project has secured a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Work is now underway to create the new museum and art gallery. The Council has committed to contributing £3.25m to the project.
In addition, the St Albans Museums and Galleries Trust is seeking to raise a further £1.7 million from the public, charitable trusts and local businesses.