New ticket deal for Victoria Art Gallery.

Solar panels to ease the lighting bill and a rooftop café are just two of the possibilities opening up for Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery as it takes a long hard look at its future prospects.

Jon Benington - Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery
Jon Benington – Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery

These were just two ideas put forward by Manager Jon Bennington at a consultation event held in the gallery at which members of the public  heard about  ‘Forward Plans’ being developed for two of the city’s most important museums – the Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery.

It’s a shame more Bath people didn’t show up at the Gallery last night (Wednesday, November 26th)  to hear about exciting new proposals  to promote and expand two of the city’s major cultural attractions.

Jon told the two-dozen gathered in the upper gallery that the Victoria Art Gallery was there to serve local people but ‘as the Council is under pressure to save money the Gallery has to play its part in being a bit more imaginative about creating income.’

His was a small building but Council plans for opening up the empty spaces alongside – leading through to the Colonnades beside the Pulteney Bridge Weir – could provide space for a roof-top café and allow the museum shop to be extended.

The gathering at the Victoria Art Gallery
The gathering at the Victoria Art Gallery. Click on images to enlarge.

‘If someone can find the money we need to expand. The gallery is severely limited on its current footprint in terms of generating more income.’

Amongst other ideas put forward was reviewing and expanding the range of gallery events including tours of the collection.

They would look at their opening hours – including whether they should be open during Bank Holidays – and explore the possibilities of promoting events on banner sites around Bath. It was hoped banners might be possible outside the gallery too!

Said Jon: ‘ Our entrance often comes across as cold and clinical and – in promoting an all singing and dancing ground floor we must not let upstairs become a fossil.’

They were also working on a feasibility scheme to enable the Gallery to become a centre for studying Georgian England and developing the website and their use of social media.

Said Jon: ‘We have one thousand items on the website but we have ten thousand in our collection. There is a lot more work to do.’

Stephen Clews - Manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room.
Stephen Clews – Manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room.

Our intimate audience also heard from Stephen Clews who is the Manager of the Roman Baths and Pump Room. He was able to announce that the fabulous Beau Street Hoard of Roman coins will be going on show at the Roman Baths in February next year.

He also explained the idea behind the proposed Archway Centre. Heritage Lottery funding is in place for detailed plans to begin now but basically the Roman Baths are hoping to turn an old city laundry – 19th century industrial buildings – into  a World Heritage Interpretation Centre with a Learning Centre above.

The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.
The illustration shows the proposed Archway Centre.

The Archway Centre refers to the ornamental arch that was put above York Street to hide the pipes carrying hot water back from the laundry to the baths.

Hot off the press. News that from April next year the combined ticket offered for the Roman Baths and Fashion Museum will be going three-way to include the Victoria Art Gallery.

Jon explained: ‘It may cost a bit more but we are absolutely delighted because it will hopefully introduce the Gallery to a million visitors to the Roman Baths who may not necessarily know we are here.’