Built within Castle Brewery, a 19th century complex adjoined to a Victorian family home, Bedford’s newest art gallery and museum has opened to the public after a £5.8 million project lasting nearly three years.
It unites the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford Museum and Bedford Gallery at Castle Close. Higgins, whose legacy forms the opening Pre-Raphaelite display, sold the brewery in 1928 in order to concentrate on creating a collection “for the benefit, interest and education of the inhabitants of, and visitors to Bedford.”
A vastly enhanced exhibition area, modern facilities and technological innovations are all part of a modern venue, with plenty of space afforded to local history.
The other opening exhibitions include the Wildlife Photographer of the Year touring show, works by community groups in the Connections Gallery, prints based on Aesop’s Fables by Edward Bawden and an exhibition on death and beauty, curated by local schoolchildren.
Speaking before the all-day midsummer opening, Dave Hodgson, the Mayor of Bedford Borough, said the venue was the result of “a huge amount of work”. “It belongs to us all,” he declared.