Bury Art Museum’s future scrutinised as council faces huge cuts

The Grade II listed building, which dates back to 1901, is in desperate need of major repairs.

By Emma Davidson | 22 November 2022

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Bury Art Museum’s future hangs in the balance as the local council faces having to make savings of £29m.

The iconic venue, which also houses a library, several galleries and a sculpture centre, stages public exhibitions and plays a vital role in the local arts scene, however a council report says an appraisal of options for the building is being made. 

It reads: “Bury Council recognises the important role that culture plays in the community and economic development,” adding it is “intended” that the current site of the museum will be included in the cultural quarter of a masterplan for Bury town centre as a ‘creatives space’.

“The museum operates from a listed building which is in a state of disrepair and visitor numbers have regrettably reduced and not yet recovered post Covid.” The report also mentions that a reduction in its budget of £250,000 is being considered for the year 2024/25.

The building needs major repairs to its roof structure, which was originally designed by King Street architects Messrs. Woodhouse and Willoughby back in the late 1800s. 

The art gallery has been praised time and time again for its grand structure, with architectural historian, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, once describing the art gallery as “probably the best building in Bury”.

The grand design includes original mosaic floors and a stone staircase. The stained glass throughout the building is by the Manchester based artist Walter J Pearce and is largely still the original glass.

Speaking to the MEN, councillor Charlotte Morris, cabinet member for culture and the economy, said: “Bury Art Museum is a treasured part of our heritage at the heart of the town’s culture quarter. 

“We are considering creative ways through which we can reduce the running costs of the service and building, but which will also support our ambitions in a new culture strategy which will be published before the end of the year. The next step is an options appraisal to look at the current and future use of the building to understand how we can reduce costs and/or drive income, while also supporting creative talent in our borough to thrive.”

A public consultation has been launched with local residents and businesses. You can access the survey below.