There’s been plenty of focus on the plans for the Football Museum for Wales, but what about the other half in the ‘museum of two halves’ project: a new museum for Wrexham?
We’ve put together this whistle-stop tour of the designs for the new galleries and spaces, plus some of the ideas for the themes and content you’ll discover during your visit to the new museum.
The development of the plans for the football museum galleries is part of the Museum of Two Halves project which will create a Football Museum for Wales and a new museum for Wrexham. This development work has been funded by Welsh Government and Wrexham County Borough Council.
All images courtesy of Hayley Sharpe Design.
For a start it will be all change on the ground floor of the current museum building: a new learning suite for schools and community events; a gallery dedicated to the history of the building, an expanded temporary exhibition space and a bigger souvenir shop.
The historic courtyard at the centre of the museum building (now the location of the main gallery) will be re-instated; creating Wrexham’s own version of the ‘Great Court’ at the British Museum.
Objects and LED displays will introduce the themes of the two museums: football heritage and Wrexham’s heritage.
This artist’s impression (see above) shows the introductory atrium as viewed from the bottom of the new central stairwell looking towards the doors into the learning suite.
The Football Museum and the Wrexham Museum galleries will all be on the first floor of the building; mostly in spaces currently not open to the public.
The Wrexham Museum galleries will be located on the eastern side of the building. Currently this wing is at two different levels and much work will be necessary to convert a series of rooms into workable gallery spaces.
One of the many improvements that would happen as part of the ‘museum of two halves’ project would be permanent galleries dedicated to specific aspects of Wrexham’s past.
Up to now we have had to cram everything into one gallery. With a fair wind and the necessary funding, Wrexham Museum can finally have the gallery space our heritage and our local communities deserve.
Visitors will enter the Wrexham Museum galleries through an introductory zone: This is Wrexham!
This will be a mix of sound, film and images introducing the history of Wrexham and the variety of the county borough, and referencing the themes of the galleries to come. The immersive experience will highlight our heritage right up to the present day.
The first gallery, Beginnings, will be devoted to archaeology and prehistory, including Brymbo Man, Bronze Age treasures such as the Rossett Hoard, and a display case featuring changing archaeological displays of local material. There will be activities to entertain and educate younger visitors too.
There is the potential here to display temporary loans from Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales) such as the Acton Hoard and the Burton Hoard (Bronze Age), the Esclusham Hoard (Roman period) and the Wrexham Hoard (the Middle Ages).
Previously we used to focus the industrial heritage displays at Bersham Heritage Centre, but since its closure the museum service has only been able to tell Wrexham’s industrial story through temporary exhibition.
All would change as part of the ‘museum of two halves’ project as Court No.2 (the current Education Room) would become the permanent gallery devoted to Wrexham’s industrial and agricultural history, the world of work and Wrexham’s origins as a market town.
There will be space to showcase some great objects from the collection; while projected at each end of the gallery would be the people and places connected to our industrial and commercial past.
There will be loads of opportunities for all ages in the planned ‘Trade and Industry’ gallery: shopping in old Wrexham, a market activity for children, a chance to find out about the different jobs that used to exist, a place to share memories of your first/worst/best job, and for the outgoing – a chance to dress up in some historic workers’ costume.
There will be displays about Wrexham’s breweries and old pubs. The ‘pub crawl’ may be alcohol-free, because you will need your wits about you to do the ultimate Wrexham pub quiz.
The story of the Gresford Colliery Disaster is such an important part of Wrexham’s modern history that there will be a section in the Conflict and Struggle gallery dedicated to the disaster and its repercussions.
The Miners’ Rights section will explore the turbulent history of the Denbighshire coalfield from the first rumblings in the 1830s through to the 1984/85 strike.
The other side of the Conflict & Struggle gallery will concentrate on Wrexham’s experience of the two World Wars with a case display, oral testimony and a giant map illustrating the area’s home front history.
Wrexham’s munitionettes, war veterans and those who served on the Home Front will be commemorated. Finally the one and only Powell Motorbike will go on permanent display.
The next gallery, Communities, will lighten the mood as the displays celebrate the social and cultural side of local life in modern times. There will be a section on making a life in Wrexham, and display cases illustrating sport in Wrexham and how our predecessors spent their free time.
We will be introducing a changing selection of characters from Wrexham’s past: the controversial, the comic, the notorious and the news worthy.
We will be working with the local community to populate these displays and there will be a call out for suggestions and contributions via social media.
We said the mood would be different in the ‘Communities’ gallery; it’s going to be colourful, lively and hopefully refreshing. However, the plan is to be able to dim the lights and turn down the volume for ‘quiet times’ when visitors don’t want to be overwhelmed.
The final gallery in the planned Wrexham Museum would focus on ‘Daily Life’. One display case will showcase objects connected to the key stages in everyone’s life from childhood to old age; while a second case will be about life in the home and how it has changed.
Once again we will be involving local people in choosing the objects and the stories they would like to see in this gallery.
At the very end there will be an area for children – a chance to explore the history ‘home’ and a cast of special puppets for children create their own dramas about Wrexham long ago.
Hopefully that brief tour of the plans for the new Wrexham Museum galleries provides plenty of reasons for you to visit and even get involved.
It is forty years since Wrexham Maelor Borough Council first appointed a Museum Research Officer in 1982. The museum’s potential is there to be realized in these new spaces when all the funding has been secured. Fingers crossed and with the right backing, Wrexham will have a museum fit for the newest city in Wales.