WESTBURY Manor Museum in Fareham is to undergo a dramatic ‘remodelling’ early next year.
The historic Grade-II listed building in West Street is set to undergo a £665,000 project to help boost visiting figures which have plummeted by more than 10,000 people in the last two years.
It will provide a more open and welcome aspect to the front of the buildingCouncillor Susan Bell
From April 2013 to March 2014, 26,516 people visited the museum.
This sharply fell to 16,306 visitors from last April to this March.
Fareham Borough Council’s executive approved the proposals at an executive meeting on Monday night.
Councillor Susan Bell, executive member for leisure and community said: ‘The proposals provide an exciting opportunity to enhance and increase the number of visitors to Westbury Manor.
‘It will provide a more open and welcome aspect to the front of the building.’
The proposals will see the ground floor transformed into a cultural space with pop-up exhibitions and the railings in the front courtyard will be removed to create a garden patio to act as an outdoor extension to the cafe space.
In addition to this, the upstairs of will be turned into a digital exhibition charting the history of Fareham and for space to be converted into incubator studios for businesses to work in.
Councillor Sean Woodward, executive leader of the council backed the plans and said: ‘Our museum has had an interesting existence since it came into being.
‘Many of the exhibits there have remained stagnant so I think it’s really good that we can now move on positively.’
Hampshire Cultural Trust run the museum and chief executive Janet Owen is ‘delighted’ with the plans.
She said: ‘We are looking forward to working with Fareham Borough Council, our partners and the people of Fareham, on this unique opportunity to transform one of the key facilities in Fareham to create an exciting cultural heritage attraction.
‘This will re-energise the visitor experience to the museum and give a focal point for the town centre.’
The museum is expected to close in January next year ahead of work beginning on the site.
After four months of work, the building will then be re-opened in May 2017.