A trio of innovative museum spaces are set to open in The Glass Works next week, bringing a fresh and distinctive cultural dynamic to Barnsley Town Centre.
Delivered by Barnsley Museums, the three venues will open to the public on 25 November and are thought to be some of the first free-to-the-public museum spaces to open in a purpose-built shopping and leisure development. This marks a significant shift in how town centres like Barnsley’s continue to evolve and adapt to modern-day market conditions.
All three units are located within the striking glass-covered shopping boulevard of The Glass Works, which connects Cheapside and the new public square at the heart of the town centre.
The largest of the three spaces, Barnsley Museums @ The Glass Works, will provide a dedicated museum that celebrates the borough’s past, present and future – combining everything from its industrial heritage and countryside to its art and sport.
Opposite this unit will be Barnsley Museums Digital @ The Glass Works, which will specialise in providing state-of-the-art digital experiences. Visitors can expect to be immersed in Barnsley’s rich culture, history and landscapes through cutting-edge technology that includes 360 film, virtual reality headsets, 3D printers and more.
Around the corner towards the public square, Barnsley Museums Gallery @ The Glass Works will deliver a multifunctional and flexible space that will showcase new exhibitions and pop-up experiences. An exciting programme of displays has already been planned, which features art exhibits, sculptures and Lego displays.
Councillor Tim Cheetham, Barnsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Culture, said:
“Despite there being a big focus on shopping within The Glass Works, it was also important to recognise that the retail sector can no longer exist in a vacuum. It is more important than ever that our town centre, and high streets up and down the country, provide an enriching and varied offer to the public.
“Creating the right balance between our shops, restaurants, entertainment venues like Superbowl UK, the Markets and now these wonderful new cultural hubs, will create a diverse and exciting destination that appeals to a wider audience – ultimately keeping our town centre active throughout the day and into the evening.
“These new installations from Barnsley Museums are a significant moment for the town and I’m proud to see us leading the way by investing in more culture at the centre of our community and local economy.”
Barnsley’s town centre and wider borough has been going through something of a cultural boom in recent years, with Experience Barnsley receiving national acclaim earlier this year as a finalist at the prestigious Art Fund National Museum of the Year Awards.
Pete Massey, Director Yorkshire, Arts Council England, said:
“Barnsley is undergoing a cultural renaissance at the moment and it’s great to see these three museum spaces opening in The Glass Works as part of that. The Glass Works has transformed the town centre, providing more opportunities for people take part in cultural activities on their doorstep. Barnsley has recently been named as an Arts Council Priority Place so we are looking forward to working with our partners in the district to build on the huge potential for arts and culture there.”