Coventry’s IKEA to be a museum and gallery

A former city centre IKEA store is to be turned into a National Collections Centre as part of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture, which begins in May.

The store, opened in 2007, had become unviable and closed a year ago, but Coventry City Council is to buy the five-storey building and transform it into a multi-purpose collections and cultural facility.

Councillor David Welsh, the city’s housing cabinet member, described the project as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create lasting legacy or the year. “A National Collections Centre would bring together the foremost national arts and cultural partners and their respective national collections alongside the city’s collections, to create a consolidated national base that would be at the heart of Coventry city centre” he said. “It would also free-up and create exciting opportunities for the much-loved Whitefriars Monastery (the medieval Carmelite friary that used as an out-station by the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery) that has been closed to the public for too long, while our local teams would benefit from working alongside a national collection management team.”

The scheme is a partnership between the council, Arts Council England, Culture Coventry Trust and Coventry University, in collaboration with the Coventry City of Culture Trust. It would see the Arts Council Collection - marking its 75th birthday this year - relocated from two current collection stores to Coventry. Culture Coventry Trust, which runs Herbert Art Gallery & Museum and the Coventry Transport Museum, would also take space to relocate some of the city’s collections not on display in the museums

“The proposed new collection centre would create a more bespoke and suitable collections environment, with enhanced public access to parts of the city’s collections that are not currently on display” said Culture Coventry Trust’s chief executive Paul Breed. “The partnership with a national collection partner further provides an opportunity to significantly enhance and re-imagine the positioning of The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, through the creation of an enhanced exhibition programme that will enable it to reach wider and more diverse audiences.”

The Arts Council Collection’s director Deborah Smith added: “We’re delighted that the new collection centre would allow for the continuing growth of our collection and for the increased learning of British modern and contemporary art through a public engagement programme that moves through the store and an integrated and collaborative creative studio, extending opportunities to work with collection centre partners and further afield.”

Work is expected to start later this year with an opening in 2023.


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