The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust launches its official campaign to get Swindon backing the bid for a landmark new building next to the Wyvern Theatre today (Wed 14 June).


Director Dr Rod Hebden, who is launching the campaign with trustees at the current museum and art gallery on Bath Road, says the time has come for Swindon to step into the spotlight and be able to tell the story of how it became the vibrant and innovative community it is today.


He argues that Swindon’s vibrant culture and heritage has never been properly showcased, so that many inside and outside the town are unaware of the high quality and vast number of artefacts and pieces of art in its collections – nor of the innovation and creativity of Swindon people.


“Swindon really is a very cool place for many reasons, but hasn’t had the recognition it deserves,” says Rod.


“But as Swindon gets behind the bid to win heritage lottery funding for a brand new museum and art gallery, that’s all about to change.


“This new museum and art gallery will allow us to shout about how fantastic Swindon is from the rooftops – quite literally, if we want. This building will be absolutely iconic, and people near and far will come to recognise it as an important Swindon landmark.


“The building itself is important for several reasons. Firstly, as a stunning piece of architecture it will remind us that its contents – which include fossils and Roman remains, examples of Swindon’s industry and innovation, and art and artefacts that Swindon people have collected – are very significant indeed.


“Secondly, its leading edge design will incorporate many intelligent and sustainable features. For example, it will collect rainwater for use inside, use solar panels to generate electricity, provide shade from the sun and be cheap and efficient to run. And of course, it will also be fully accessible to everyone, regardless of any disability or health condition they may have, which very sadly our current museum and art gallery is not.


“Finally, the new purpose-built museum and art gallery will extend the possibilities for Swindon and its people. It will be a memorable place to meet up, have fun and learn about all sorts of things – science, technology, history, art and a lot more. It will allow us to borrow art and artefacts from others, and to lend some of our collections out. It won’t be a stuffy set of rooms, but an interactive space where people can enjoy themselves and will want to return to again and again.”


Supporters who are helping launch the bid include Swindon residents, education professionals, artists, employers and heritage specialists.


The Back the Bid campaign marks the start of a series of events and opportunities for the people of Swindon to show their support.