Northampton

Northampton Museum due to reopen after statue-sale-funded rebuild

Northampton's museum and art gallery. Image copyright Northampton Borough Council
Image caption Northampton's museum and art gallery has doubled in size and features a shoe heritage exhibition

A museum refurbished using funds from the controversial sale of a 4,000-year-old statue is to reopen in the summer.

Northampton's museum and art gallery has doubled in size with a new glazed atrium extension, and has an exhibition dedicated to the area's shoe heritage.

The town's borough council paid for the £6.7m project by selling its Egyptian Sekhemka statue for £16m in 2014.

Work at the Guildhall Road site began in September 2018, after a two-year delay, but it is to open on 20 June.

Image copyright Northampton Borough Council
Image caption The building on Guildhall Road is due to open in June after refurbishment work was delayed by two years

There were concerns about the project after a fire there in February 2019, but managers later said "nothing of value" had been damaged as the building had been empty.

A glazed atrium includes a café and south-facing outdoor terrace, along with a new shoe gallery housed on the lower floor and extended shop selling work from local artists.

The revamped history gallery includes new displays on lace making and post-war development of Northampton.

Jonathan Nunn, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: "This much-anticipated development, in the heart of our expanding Cultural Quarter, has been five years in the making and represents a significant addition to Northampton's cultural life.

"It is set to be a major attraction, where visitors can discover Northampton's internationally important shoe collection, explore the town's rich history, and experience an ever-changing programme of art, activities, events and temporary exhibitions."

Northampton Borough Council had accreditation status for its museums withdrawn after it sold its Sekhemka statue, leaving it ineligible for some grants.

Arts Council England ruled the transaction breached standards for how museums manage their collections.

But the council said in July it was "building bridges" to regain the status.

Image copyright christies
Image caption The Egyptian government campaigned against Northampton Borough Council's sale of the Sekhemka figurine in 2014

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