Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum's regeneration begins

An artist's impression of how the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum will look after the work So far £5.4m has been raised towards the cost of regenerating the art gallery and museum

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Workers have moved in to begin a £6.3m project to expand and regenerate Cheltenham's Art Gallery and Museum.

Development plans include additional galleries, a performance space, larger cafe and shop and a new home for the Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre.

The site will now be prepared by the appointed contractor which will begin the building work later this month.

So far £5.4m has been raised towards the final target and a fund-raising campaign is soon to be launched.

The scheme will also provide a more prominent entrance to the Art Gallery and Museum and create a new footpath to Cheltenham's oldest building, medieval St. Mary's Church.

'Landmark'

Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, Councillor Steve Jordan, said this was a "giant step" forward for the redevelopment.

"We have been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to get to this point and I am looking forward to what lies ahead," he added.

The Art Gallery and Museum closed to the public at the end of March and will be re-opening in early 2013.

John Rawlinson, from contractor ISG, said the "landmark building" would enhance public accessibility to the art and museum collections and enable Cheltenham to become a key venue for national and international touring exhibitions.

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