Photograph of a painting being packed and moved from the Museum and Art GalleryPaintings from the past, ornamental objects and protected collections – over 17,000 objects have now been moved to our offsite store as the Museum and Art Gallery building is gradually emptied.

Our decant team – made up of staff and volunteers – has just passed the mid-point between closure on 3 September and Christmas as the building is cleared to make way for the development of the History Centre.

They’ve been working solidly for months so we can stay on schedule to get the building cleared by the end of the year.

The 17,000 objects that have been moved so far include items from a range of collections, including art, world cultures, social history and archaeology. Our historically significant Cottonian Collection, which was amassed by an 18th Century gentleman and is protected by an Act of Parliament, has also now been moved.

Councillor Glenn Jordan, Cabinet Member for Culture, said: “The progress made by the Museum and Art Gallery staff over the last few weeks is fantastic. The decant of the museum building is a real team effort, which is involving staff from different departments as well as volunteers. It’s great to see everyone working together to keep this important element of the History Centre project on track.”

There are now approximately 9,000 more objects to move. This figure includes more items from our art and world cultures collections, as well as items from our maritime and natural history collections.

Photograph of volunteers and staff packing the collectionsBefore objects can be moved they all have to be carefully wrapped and packed and the information on our database has to be updated so we have a robust audit trail.

The History Centre project will see the Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke’s Church buildings transformed into a brand new cultural and heritage attraction. The centre, which has been described as a “game-changer” for arts and culture in Plymouth, is set to open in spring 2020 as part of Plymouth’s commemorations for Mayflower 400.

What’s been achieved to date?

  • The Heritage Lottery Fund has committed £15.8 million to the project.
  • Plymouth City Council has committed £8 million.
  • Arts Council England has committed £4.2 million.
  • Plymouth University has committed £150,000.
  • The Wolfson Foundation has committed £128,000.
  • Planning permission has been secured.
  • Atkins, one of the world’s leading design, engineering and project management firms has been appointed to oversee the architectural and technical design for the building.
  • Award-winning exhibition designers, Event Communications, has been appointed to lead the development of the content.
  • Award-winning construction firm, Willmott Dixon, has been appointed to lead the building and construction elements of the project.
  • Photograph of a Museum On Tour event at the Central LibraryThe Central Library has relocated to a new location in the city centre and can now be found on the corner of Mayflower Street and Armada Way.
  • The Central Library and St Luke’s Church buildings have been emptied.
  • The Museum and Art Gallery has started its ‘Museum On Tour’ programme, which includes events in a range of offsite locations, partnership exhibitions and loans to venues across the South West and beyond, plus a series of community projects which will be delivered over the next three years.

To read blog posts about our decant click here.

To watch some behind the scenes videos about the decant click here.