Architects signed up to develop the new £21m Blackpool Museum have promised an ‘inventive celebration’ of the town’s ‘unique character and history’.
Blackpool Council has appointed Buttress Architects to develop proposals for the new attraction in the Winter Gardens’ Pavilion Theatre and the surrounding Horseshoe space.
In early artistic impressions of the scheme, published today, Buttress paints a picture of a larger-than-life explosion of performance.
Last year the historic Pavilion was highlighted by the Theatres Trust as needing urgent action to save it.
And last month, Prince Charles’ conservation charity revealed it had been chosen by Blackpool Council to develop the restoration plans for the theatre, within the Grade two-star listed Winter Gardens.
The Trust claimed the interactive museum could create full-time 80 jobs and boost the town’s economy by almost £15m a year.
The museum aims to bring together the heritage, artefacts, stories and memories associated with the world’s first working-class seaside resort.
As well as artefacts, the museum would offer tours, film, music and performance, with displays from the council’s collection, as well as international exhibits, including from London’s V&A Museum.
Gavin Sorby, managing director of Manchester-based Buttress, said: “The new museum promises to be a fascinating mix of heritage and exuberance, of conservation restraint and escapism.”
Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said: “Appointing Buttress to help us reshape the Pavilion Theatre to become the perfect home for the Blackpool Museum is another important step forward with the project.”
And Belinda Betts, project director for the council, added: “Buttress were highly creative with a clear commitment to the objectives of the project.”
In a statement, Buttress claims: “No conventional museum, and reflecting the Winter Gardens’ larger than life personality, it is proposed the museum will be a dynamic and celebratory space to capture the essence of Blackpool; a blend of museum, visitor attraction and theatre”.
It continues “Our proposal imagines a dynamic and inventive celebration of the unique character and history of Blackpool in the Winter Gardens, one of its iconic spaces, at the heart of Blackpool’s heritage.”
Buttress, the firm behind Manchester’s popular Museum Of Science and Industry, says it will ‘create a unique experience that is true to the spirit of Blackpool, the building and the museum’s future’.
So far, the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded £1.25m to develop the project it described as ‘truly visionary’, with a further £13.6m in line for construction and repairs, should they approve the detailed proposals which will be presented later this year.
The rest of the money will be secured through match funding, including £2m from the council.
Work could begin on the transformation by autumn 2016, with the attraction due to open in summer 2018.
A public consultation is due to take place this year, which will involve listening to people’s stories about Blackpool, to help form the plans.
The Pavilion Theatre, originally built in 1878 as a concert room, has long been closed to the public and repairs are needed to save its original features.