Future Plans


Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust determined to deliver a better home for the Swindon collections, despite HLF decision not to make major grant award

The Trustees of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust (The Trust) which leads the project to build a new museum and art gallery for Swindon, whilst disappointed at not being awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), are determined to deliver a solution for Swindon’s great collections.

The Trust submitted a bid for £12.7m via HLF South West in November 2017, since when the proposal has been scrutinised at regional and national level and was found by the HLF to meet all the criteria and was deemed an important and worthwhile project for Swindon.

However, the HLF receives far more viable applications than it has the funds to support. On this occasion, the HLF has been unable to make a major award to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery project.

The Chairman of the Trust, Robert Hiscox, said: “The work done on the bid has not been wasted, as the profile of Swindon’s culturally important collections has been raised locally and nationally, and has generated huge amounts of engagement around the importance of culture to the people of Swindon. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received and want to thank everyone for all their hard work and passion.

“For the last few years we have been very focussed on the bid but now we have the opportunity to step back and explore options and look at alternative possibilities.

“Over the coming months we will be consulting with stakeholders and the public to get as much input as we can on how to fulfil our ambition to create something that will be transformational for Swindon and a source of civic pride that everyone can enjoy.”

Any new solution will be delivered in the context of revised Arts Council and HLF strategic funding frameworks, which will be launched next year.

The Leader of Swindon Borough Council, Cllr David Renard, said: “We are disappointed the Trust’s bid was not selected by the HLF but we will not let this setback dim our ambition for a new Museum and Art Gallery.

“The feedback we received from the HLF throughout the bid process was greatly encouraging and that, coupled with the huge show of public support we received, has made us even more determined to give our magnificent collections of art and historical artefacts an appropriate home.

“The benefits of a new museum and art gallery cannot be underestimated. It will not only encourage millions of people to Swindon, but act as a catalyst for significant investment in the surrounding area, acting as a symbol of our ambition for the town.

“We knew we were up against some extremely tough competition, but we are committed to regenerating the cultural quarter area which will also include the Wyvern Theatre over time. We will be working with the Trust, stakeholders and Swindon residents on all the available options and will announce these plans in due course.”


The HLF bid has been submitted!

The funding bid for a new museum and art gallery was successfully submitted by the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust at the end of November 2017.   Trust Director, Rod Hebden, said “…that with the support of all partners, stakeholders and the Friends of the Museum and Art Gallery, together, we managed to pull together an enormous amount of support for the project, and created a wide range of partnerships with local and national organisations to deliver a bid which we can be proud of.  And, whether the bid is successful or not, we’ll need that support as we go forward, to continue to build the impact and reach of our fantastic collections.”  The HLF have confirmed that the final decision will be made at their Board meeting on the 24th April, with announcements to follow soon afterwards.  Fingers crossed!


Latest image of new Swindon Museum and Art Gallery revealed

The latest building design images have been revealed by Make Architects in its proposed new position with some of the future improvements made to the surrounding area.  Read more here.  You can also have a look at the teaser trailer.

Campaign to support Swindon’s bid for a new museum and art gallery is officially launched


The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust launched its official campaign to get Swindon backing the bid for a landmark new building next to the Wyvern Theatre last week (Wed 14 June).  For more on this, click here.


New Director announced for Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust

The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust has announced the appointment of Rod Hebden as interim Director.

Rod has extensive experience in leading and developing major projects in the heritage sector, having worked with national museums and heritage for over a decade.  His experience includes leading major project fundraising for the Science Museum in Wroughton and London, as well as transforming commercial partnerships for the National Trust.

For more on this, click here.


Vision for a landmark museum and art gallery for Swindon is revealed

 The ambitious plan to create an iconic museum and art gallery in Swindon’s town centre took a major step forward on 13th December, when the partners and stakeholders revealed their developing vision for the project.


The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery (SMAG) Trust recently invited a wide range of architects to submit design concepts for a state-of-the-art structure to house the town’s museum and nationally significant collection of British 20th Century modern art, which includes works by Lucian Freud, Henry Moore, L S Lowry and Graham Sutherland.

The brief for architects was to create a landmark destination that would form the centrepiece of Swindon’s new cultural quarter, become a significant source of pride and wellbeing for local residents and businesses, and attract visitors to Swindon from the wider region and beyond.

As part of its fund-raising strategy the SMAG Trust will be applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a grant of around £10 million towards the £22 million project. Make Architects, whose founder Ken Shuttleworth lives in Wiltshire, have been selected to develop the design concepts to submit to the HLF as part of the bid.

Make’s proposal, designed with Arup, Steenson Varming and Alinea, presents a cutting edge venue that engages the community with a number of exciting facilities, including learning centres, event spaces, cafe and dining areas, a viewing gallery and a generous public realm.

Alongside these are four flexible independent gallery spaces which will showcase the museum’s outstanding British Art and studio ceramics collection, tell the story of Swindon, have an interactive science facility and also host visiting exhibitions.

The founder of Make Architects, Ken Shuttleworth, said:

“Our team is extremely excited by the immense potential of the site. We believe the development of the space is a fantastic opportunity to create a beautiful cultural destination in the heart of Swindon that safeguards, enhances and celebrates the area’s collections, and creates new and engaging public realm that draws and excites visitors. We envisage a world-class building that will become an artefact in itself, an object that symbolises Swindon’s past, present and future.”

Swindon Borough Council has already pledged £5 million towards the project.

Council leader Cllr David Renard said:

“Delivering a genuinely world-class new museum and art gallery is one of the Council’s pledges and forms an integral part of its plans to breathe new life into the town centre.”

Cllr Garry Perkins, Cabinet Member for the Economy, Regeneration and Skills, said:

“We know from other hugely ambitious cultural projects, such as the Turner Contemporary that has re-energised and regenerated Margate, that the economic benefits to the surrounding area are huge. This structure and all that goes in it will play a key part in securing the town’s future economic and cultural regeneration, and put us firmly on the map as a major destination for arts, heritage and science.”

Robert Hiscox, chair of SMAG Trust, said the board’s vision is to build the most admired civic museum in the country.

Mr Hiscox said:

“Swindon is a thriving town in beautiful countryside with easy access through rail and road for millions of people.  The Council identified the need for a cultural quarter, and the new museum and art gallery will give it a heart and a centre for the local community.  It will also benefit the town’s economy by making Swindon a destination for visitors and businesses.  This is not a vanity project; it is a serious investment in the future prosperity of the town.”

The project has been warmly welcomed by one of the town’s major employers.

Rob Angus, strategy and propositions director at Nationwide, said:

“Initiatives such as this are vitally important to the regeneration of Swindon.  As a major local employer we know it is important that the town continues to be an attractive place for people to live and work, not just for our current 7,000 strong, Swindon-based workforce but for our future employees too.”


Further Information

The Trust:

The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust was incorporated on October 29 2015 under the chairmanship of Robert Hiscox and is run by a board of five locally-based trustees. It was registered as a charity in February 2016.

Website:  www.swindonmuseum.org.uk

You can contact the Trust by clicking on this link.

The Objectives of the Project

The objectives of the £22 million project are:

  •  To create a major permanent Museum and Art Gallery of the future – a beacon of civic pride, creativity and inclusion. A major new public space that is welcoming.
  • To bring the story of Swindon and its heritage to life through the highest-quality museum displays and interactives.
  • To create a unique public space dedicated to art, history and science, combining iconic historical artefacts (large and small), interactivity, film and imagery, as well as hosting a seamless integration with a destination cafe/restaurant and retail outlet and supporting services. In short, if you are in Swindon, this is the place you want to be.
  • To inspire visitors, building confidence and skills.
  • To cherish SMAG’s existing visitor and volunteer base and attract a new and broader audience – both physically and online.
  • To aspire to the highest international museum standards in the care, preservation and display of Collections.
  • To optimise the opportunities afforded by a new build by achieving high standards of access, design and sustainability while referencing the unique history of the town and its environment.
  • To contribute to the delivery of the Swindon’s regeneration objectives, particularly engaging with the best design practices and enhancing visitors’ experiences through beautiful, appropriate and well-crafted design and by uncovering and driving forward Swindon’s hidden but vibrant cultural scene

To find out more about why this project is important to Swindon, watch this short video:


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