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Bold new plans for the future of The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

Published: Tuesday, 20th December 2022

Ambitious new plans have been unveiled for The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, including an extension to the building and the gallery space.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has set out a bold range of proposals in a brand-new prospectus, which seeks to promote and enhance the city’s unique cultural and heritage offer. This involves the reinterpretation of our exquisite collections and improvements to the existing infrastructure that will enhance the visitor experience.

The council is working with a number of partners including Stoke Creates, Staffordshire and Keele Universities to deliver our vision. A project currently under development will see our curatorial team working with Keele University on an exciting project to re-interpret the galleries for new and future audiences. The proposal is to extend the museum’s existing gallery space, giving more room to display the city’s nationally designated collections in a contemporary architectural setting, enabling the story of the city and its people, including the important role women have played in the ceramics industry, to be told in a compelling and captivating way for future generations.

The journey to re-develop the museum has already begun with the authority’s £4.7m investment into the stunning Spitfire Gallery which houses the Mark XVI World War II Spitfire, celebrating locally-born R. J. Mitchell’s triumph of aircraft design and inspiring a new generation of engineers. Work on the re-location of the City’s Archive service to the site has started with further investment by the city council of over £1.5m, which will see the museum and archives collections in one place for the first time.  With a new state-of-the-art reading room in the heart of the museum, this investment will create an integrated world-class research facility for the study of ceramics and local history.   

As well as the city council’s contribution, a number of potential funding opportunities are being explored to bring other elements of the vision to life, including bids submitted to Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other funding bodies. These bids have been submitted as part of a competitive application process, and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Discussions are also being held with private investors who are keen to support the cultural aspirations of the city.    

An important stage of this work is the widespread public engagement that will start next year to ensure the redesign of the galleries fully reflect the story of our city.

Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council said:

“Our vision for The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery represents a new, exciting chapter for the culture of Stoke-on-Trent. Our ambition is to create a must-see internationally renowned cultural destination that both showcases and inspires visitors to explore sites and attractions throughout the City. 

“We want to see the museum become a new centerpiece for the Cultural Quarter, and the prospectus sets out how this can be achieved.

Cllr Lorraine Beardmore, cabinet member for culture, leisure, and public health said:

“The proposals in our prospectus have the potential to transform Stoke-on-Trent into one of the country’s most exciting cultural destinations.

“This has been unveiled to potential investors and will be used as the template for potential funding bids going forward.

“We have already invested significantly, in the redevelopment of the Spitfire Gallery and the co-location of the city’s archive service. The unique artifacts housed at the museum play a crucial role in our city’s heritage and we want to ensure they are accessible to everyone in a modern museum setting.”

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery Prospectus can be viewed here –

https://www.stoke.gov.uk/pmagprospectus