After years of hard graft, the team working on major redevelopment plans for Hereford Museum have secured the final chunk of funding needed to go ahead.
National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) has awarded Herefordshire Council £5m to help transform the Grade II listed museum and art gallery on Broad Street.
A total investment to £18m - £8m from the Council, £5m from Government’s Town Fund Scheme designed to ‘level up’ smaller cities around the UK, and now £5m from Heritage Fund - will create “a contemporary museum and art exhibition centre within the cathedral quarter of the city”.
Changes include new galleries and exhibition space, restoration of the historic Woolhope Club room, a permanent home for the Herefordshire Hoard and a roof-top café. Above and beyond the physical update, the redevelopment is making a major statement about the value of our museum, gallery and collections and how our rich heritage resonates with us today.
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This major makeover was first developed in late 2020 as part of Hereford’s Town Investment Plan, a document which set out an ambitious vision for what the city could be like if a raft of capital projects - several of them supporting the city’s arts, heritage and cultural scene - secured funding. Which they did.
Redevelopment of the site has been a long time coming. For several years Hereford Library Users Group (HLUG) called for investment in Broad Street, arguing that the space just wasn’t working as a combined home for the city’s library, museum and art gallery. In 2015 Herefordshire Council agreed to part fund a redevelopment if HLUG secured community-backing for redesign.
When the Broad Street campaign came to a halt in 2016, there were several reports, recommendations and a raft of opinions published on the viability, value and merits of both library and museum services locally.
By 2018 The Future Resilience of Herefordshire Council’s Museum Service report had recommended that, in time, an independent charitable trust should be set up to run the museums service. It’s a model that’s been hugely successful in Derby and Cornwall but hasn’t, to date, progressed in Hereford.
Fast forward to 2020 and bigger, bolder plans to redevelop Broad Street arrived. In 2021 they secured Government backing as part of the Towns Fund deal for Hereford and, now, they're fully funded.
Announcing the NLHF award in July 2023, Herefordshire Council said: “The redevelopment is our flagship project in the town’s investment plan, giving heritage-led regeneration and tourism a boost across the Midlands.”
To make way for these big changes, Hereford Library will move to a new site and undergo it’s own regeneration. The final location is still under review and, for now, the county library has relocated to a temporary location at the Museum Resource and Learning Centre on Friar Street.
The Herefordshire Hoard
The collection, which will be housed in the new museum, features a gold arm bangle with beast head clasp, a pendant made from a sphere of rock crystal mounted in gold, a gold octagonal ring with black inlay and 29 rare coins mostly of Alfred the Great of Wessex and Ceolwulf II of Mercia. The hoard is thought to have been buried around 878 and changes much of what we thought about power and rule in Britain pre Norman conquest.