What is the ‘Museum of Two Halves’ project?
The ‘Museum of Two Halves’ is our shorthand name to describe the project that will see the development of a Football Museum for Wales and a new Wrexham Museum in the current museum building on Regent Street in Wrexham.
The name a ‘museum of two halves’ was provided during an informal consultation session held at the Bridge Inn, Ruabon, near Wrexham, by a long time enthusiast.
Where is the new football museum going to be based?
The new Football Museum will be based within the Wrexham Museum building on Regent Street.
A complete refurbishment of the building will be carried out, including making full use of the upper floor for the first time, so that both the Football Museum and Wrexham Museum can exist side by side.
Wrexham Museum’s role as the custodian of the official Welsh Football Collection and staff expertise in making it accessible to visitors, researchers and online means it is an ideal home for the new Football Museum.
Officially the development of the Football Museum for Wales is referred to as ‘the Museum of Two Halves’ project because our plans involve two museums complementing each other in one location.
What will happen to Wrexham Museum?
Wrexham Museum is staying exactly where it is. In fact, it’s going to be better than ever. The two museums will exist side by side in the same building once the improvement work is complete.
New galleries will be created to display the Wrexham Museum collections, which means an enhanced experience for visitors and a first-class, modern venue for discovering the fascinating and eventful story of our region of North East Wales.
Who is helping to develop the new museum?
The Museum is being developed by Wrexham Council’s museum team in association with museum designers, Haley Sharpe Design and architects, Purcell. The project is being supported with funding from Wrexham Council and Welsh Government, with additional support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Once open, the Football Museum will be operated and managed by Wrexham Council.
The project is being guided by a steering group that includes the Wrexham Council’s Chief Executive, representatives from the Welsh Government, the Football Association of Wales (FAW), National Lottery Heritage Fund, Sporting Heritage network, the Welsh Federation of Museums & Art Galleries, Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales, museum staff and others.
The project team are also receiving advice from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, along with specialists in inclusive design and activity planning for the future museum and its development.
Members of the wider community here in Wrexham and elsewhere in Wales are also contributing to the development of the project. We have established a series of consultation panels. The project has two Engagement Officers who have been encouraging people across Wales to get involved in the development of the football museum galleries, while over the summer we will be developing an activity plan, which will involve more people locally in the plans for the Wrexham Museum galleries
Wrexham is often referred to as ‘the spiritual home of Welsh football’.
Here are a few reasons why:
- The FAW was founded in the town during a meeting at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel in 1876.
- Wrexham AFC was established way back in 1864, making it the oldest professional football club in Wales and the third oldest in the world!
- Their ground, the Racecourse, hosted the nation’s first home international match in 1877. Some of Wales’ most successful players have come from or played in Wrexham including Billy Meredith, Mark Hughes, Robbie Savage and, more recently, Neco Williams.
- Wrexham Museum is home to the official Welsh Football Collection – the largest collection relating to Welsh football in public ownership. The museum has cared for the collection for over twenty years during which time it has been used in more than a dozen exhibitions, as well as being a resource for researchers, TV production companies and other museums.
- Wrexham is now the home of the FAW National Training Centre at Colliers Park (Gresford), the Wrexham AFC Professional Training Centre at the Groves proposed but doesn’t exist currently, and the Wrexham Gateway redevelopment of the Racecourse Ground.
- Wrexham’s connections to football, both domestic and international, were highlighted in the town’s successful bid to be recognized as a city.
When is the project going to be completed?
Currently it is planned to close the museum and the café to visitors towards the end of 2023 to allow time in early 2024 for the staff to move the collections and equipment out of the building.
The collections will be moved to a new purpose-built museum collections store in Wrexham.
The plan is for construction work on the building to start in spring 2024.
Depending on the progress of the construction and fit-out phases of the project, the new museums will open in 2025/26.
How can I find out more?
Follow Football Museum Wales on social media:
Facebook – Amgueddfa Bel Droed Cymru / Football Museum Wales
Twitter – @footymuseumwal
Instagram – @footballmuseumcymru
Follow Wrexham Museum on social media:
Facebook – Wrexham Museum
Twitter – @wrexhammuseums
Instagram – @wrexhammuseum
How are you involving people across Wales in the development of the project?
The ‘Museum of Two Halves’ project will best succeed if we involve people across Wales in its delivery and development.
This is happening in many different ways:
- At each stage of the project we are consulting widely with different people. We have established a series of consultative panels: a) Football Specialists; b) Football supporters and community organizations; c) Wrexham heritage specialists; d) Wrexham community organizations; e) an Access panel to ensure all will be able to enjoy the new museum f) Formal and Informal learning providers and g) Staff and Volunteers
- There will be two Engagement Officers who will act as ‘roving ambassadors’ for the football museum and they will be active throughout Wales, alongside museum staff based in Wrexham
- Our official activity plan will involve a series of events and opportunities for people in Wrexham and north-east Wales to get involved.
- Ongoing conversations, collaborations, and partnerships with people, groups and communities
- Potentially more outreach events elsewhere in Wales
What are you hoping to achieve as part of the ‘Museum of Two Halves’ project?
The aim is to deliver a unique visitor attraction for people from all corners of Wales and from beyond and a community asset for the people of Wrexham County Borough.
· A quality series of spaces for both the Football Museum & the Wrexham Museum
· Improved facilities for school groups and community groups
· Improved access to both floors of the building and improved orientation around the building, with equal access to all public areas.
· A proper introductory area to both the building as a whole and each museum
· An internal and an external space focused on the needs of younger families
· A visitor experience attuned to the needs of the neuro-diverse.
· An improved welcome hub, café offer, retail offer and better facilities for visitors
Can you tell us more about the planned galleries for the Football Museum?
Visitors to the museum will head upstairs from the introductory atrium and enter via an introductory immersive experience to get them in the football mood. From there, they will emerge into Court No.1, the largest space in the museum. This space will divide into three broad experiential areas:
- Loyalties & Rivalries which will focus on football in Wales at club level, from the big clubs down to grassroots level
- Heartbreak & Glory, which will tell the story of the Welsh men’s and women’s teams
- On the Terraces, which is where we focus on the fans and the unsung of Welsh football and include even more interactivity for younger visitors.
Court No.1 is a wonderful space and the height will be exploited to allow the creation of some fantastic visitor experiences. Finally the potential of this room will be realized and public access made possible.
We will be in a position to provide more details in the autumn.
How are you involving people across Wales in the development of the project?
As part of the project we have appointed two Engagement Officers who have been working with
communities across Wales since November 2023. Their work has already led to collaborative
projects with football clubs in each of the six regions of the Football Association of Wales.
The two roving ambassadors have an action plan based on building relationships with grass roots
teams, football fans, and the big four professional clubs as well as organizing events across Wales.
Alongside the activities of the two Engagement Officers, the project team will be developing an
activity plan this year to ensure more people are involved in the development of the new museum
and for when it has opened. This plan will be for both halves of the new museum.
Can you provide any more information about the proposed permanent galleries for the new Wrexham Museum?
As with the Football Museum, visitors will initially enter an introductory immersive zone that will highlight the story of Wrexham – think of it as a space where you can switch onto the incredible history and heritage of our city and county.
We are planning to have five spaces, including Court No.2. Each space will have a broad theme:
- Beginnings – this room will focus on archaeology, with a re-display of Brymbo Man, the Bronze Age and Roman material
- Trade & Industry – this room will focus on our industrial and agricultural heritage, the development of the market town of Wrexham and the world of work in Wrexham.
- Conflict & Struggle – this gallery will focus on both industrial and social struggles and setbacks, and also the World Wars and their impact on Wrexham and its people.
- Daily Life – this gallery will be dedicated to topics such as changes in the home, the stages of life, health and medicine, and leisure and free time
- Communities – the final gallery will be about the many different groups that make up Wrexham, whether that is the Penley Poles or the Portuguese, the Wrexham diaspora, and cultural festivals.
All the galleries will have a strong focus on people with the aim of introducing visitors to the many individuals who have shaped or represent the full variety of Wrexham’s history including the famous, the ‘should be famous’, the overlooked (who are predominantly women), and the ‘gwerin’
The galleries will also use visual images and film to highlight ‘place’ and so ensure that this is a museum of Wrexham County Borough and not just the town and the industrial belt.
These ideas and themes are still at development stage and they will undoubtedly evolve over the next two years in response to research, the consultation process and events.