A £3.5million transformation plan for Worthing Museum and Art Gallery has been unveiled in a bid to double visitor numbers by 2020.
Worthing Borough Council released details of the project on Tuesday, including plans to convert the courtyard garden into a glass-fronted café and turn the attraction into a national centre for costume research.
Worthing Borough Council cabinet member for customer services councillor Heather Mercer said: “I am completely knocked out by these proposals. They will transform the museum into a stunning space fit to be a jewel in the crown of our cultural offering.”
Just half of the building is currently open to the public while five per cent of the council’s collection is on display.
The council said its costume collection was one of the most significant in the country but most of its 30,000 items were in storage due to a lack of display space.
The plans, drawn up by architects Allies and Morrison, will open up the Grade II Listed building to create more space.
The redevelopment will include a new café and greater retail space to maximise income. The council is seeking numerous grants to fund the work and plans to contribute £125,000 towards the project.
It said 50 jobs would be created in addition to protecting 20, while 24 apprentices would be hired. Educational programmes will benefit the area’s students.
Paul Appleton, partner at Allies and Morrison, said the ‘splendid’ Edwardian building had been hidden inside behind layers of plasterboard. “Its fabulous collection has never quite been matched by the spaces in which they are displayed,” he said.
“This project is about revealing the character of the building and, in doing so, making a museum which is impressive and simple to navigate on a first visit but rewards those who return again and again.”