THE BOX IN PLYMOUTH
MUSEUM | GALLERY | ARCHIVE
OPENS FROM 29 SEPTEMBER FOR GENERAL ADMISSION
The Box is a major new cultural and heritage attraction, opening in Plymouth’s city centre in September 2020 as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations. The Museum and Art Gallery, former Central Library and St Luke’s Church buildings have been transformed into a venue and visitor experience fit for the 21st century with a series of large-scale galleries that highlight the city’s fine art, decorative art, natural history, human history, film, photographic and archive collections.
At the heart of The Box’s ethos is the conservation, heritage and preservation of Plymouth’s rich history and heritage. It brings together six outstanding national collections in a new and sustainable home, including objects from Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, archives from the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, and film and photographs from the South West Film and Television Archive and the South West Image Bank. This rich blend of collections will enable the stories of international and local significance to be told through immersive experiences and amazing objects.
Having postponed its original May 2020 opening, The Box will now open on Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September with a special preview weekend for the Plymouth residents who took part in a ballot earlier this year. It will then be open to the public from Tuesday 29 September. Opening hours will be 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday.
The Box is the largest multi-disciplinary arts and heritage space to open in the UK in 2020. Originally three separate buildings, The Box’s ground-breaking design has completely transformed, extended and combined Plymouth’s former City Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library building and St Luke’s Church to create a cutting-edge, interactive cultural centre with 13 new galleries and exhibition spaces, a striking elevated archive, learning and research facilities and a brand new public square.
In preparation for opening, The Box has put a number of safety and social distancing measures in place to help visitors feel as comfortable as possible. In line with government guidance, the wearing of face coverings will be encouraged for all visitors over 11 years and mandatory in the retail area.
• Free admission by advance ticket only, with an easy to follow booking system at www.theboxplymouth.com (tickets can be booked from 10 September)
• Reduced capacity and clearly marked one-way systems in key areas of circulation
• Increased invigilation by staff and volunteers
• Hand sanitising facilities and enhanced cleaning
• A temporary reduction in on site events alongside an enhanced digital offer
Admission will be free to all exhibitions and galleries apart from the ‘Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy’ exhibition. This will be free for Plymouth residents and under 18s with a small £5 charge for non-Plymouth residents who are over 18.
Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “This is such an exciting moment for the city and it’s fantastic to finally be able to announce these dates. The Box is a vital part of our recovery programme and it feels like it’s been a long time coming now. Staff have worked so hard over the last few months to maintain momentum and keep the public engaged with the project. They’ve also put in a huge effort to respond to the current government guidelines to ensure that everyone who visits will have a safe and enjoyable experience. I hope everyone is as proud and excited as I am and can’t wait for the doors to open. In our post-lockdown world, The Box is going to be a place where people can reconnect with each other, Plymouth’s history and its future.”
Paul Brookes, Interim CEO said: “The main focus for our launch preparations is the safety of our visitors and staff and the quality of the access and experience we’ll provide. We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to move the dates of our exhibition programme without making any fundamental changes to our vision, and continue to fit out our permanent galleries without making too many compromises. With a reduced visitor capacity on site those who feel able to come in during our first few weeks will get the chance to enjoy an amazing, almost private-view level experience. We can’t wait to see what people think.”
The Box will open with three major exhibitions.
Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy, the largest commemorative Mayflower exhibition in history, will include over 300 objects and has been co-curated with the Wampanoag Native American Advisory Committee.
Making It is an international contemporary art exhibition featuring newly commissioned works by Antony Gormley, Portuguese artist Leonor Antunes and Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha.
Kehinde Wiley: Ship of Fools has been curated in partnership with The Arts Institute at the University of Plymouth and Royal Museums Greenwich, and will present a three-channel film work by American artist Kehinde Wiley in The Levinsky Gallery.
Nine permanent galleries will also showcase The Box’s incredible collections and will include 14 monumental ships’ figureheads, thousands of natural history specimens, a full-size woolly mammoth replica, paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and ceramics from the city’s art collections, objects, film and photography from its media collections and documents, maps and plans from its archives.
Conservative Councillor, Ian Bowyer said: “Everything at The Box is really starting to come together and it’s looking wonderful – there’s no doubt in my mind that everyone who visits is going to be really impressed. The combination of the newly developed permanent galleries, the exciting temporary exhibitions plus the catering, retail and research facilities mean Plymouth has a top-class cultural attraction we can all be extremely proud of. It’s going to an emotional day for everyone who’s been involved when The Box finally gets to open in September.”
The Box Kitchen & Bar and The Little Box café will be serving a range of tasty meals and snacks (advance booking recommended). A new shop will also be open and will offer a ‘click and collect’ service for those who want to maximise their time in the galleries and exhibitions or browse online before or after their visit.
You can find out more about The Box at www.theboxplymouth.com
Led by Plymouth City Council, The Box is a partnership with the University of Plymouth and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Major funders include Plymouth City Council, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.