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The Box: Plymouth £47m arts and heritage complex unveiled

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image captionA life-sized woolly mammoth was commissioned for The Box as part of its displays

A new arts and heritage complex for the city of Plymouth has been unveiled.

The Box, which contains a museum, gallery and archive centre, is to open to the public next Tuesday.

The £47m project, on North Hill in the city, was scheduled to open in May but that was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Box boss Paul Brookes said "extraordinary" work had resulted in a facility of the sort that "people would expect to see in London".

'Incredibly brave'

The city council said it believed it was the largest such arts complex to open this year in the UK.

Speaking during a preview event, CEO Mr Brookes said the pandemic, factors relating to Brexit and problems caused by knotweed and bats had resulted in a £13m overspend on the £46.8m project total.

However, he said: "I think we have been incredibly brave.

"Who else would commission a life-sized woolly mammoth or a replica ship of the Mayflower?"

Originally three buildings, The Box occupies the former City Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke's Church, providing 13 exhibition spaces.

image captionAs part of a new exhibition, Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley created a new work

Permanent displays chart the city's life from a place where mammoths once roamed, to one whose shores explorers departed from.

Its opening exhibitions include: Mayflower 400, celebrating the anniversary of the departure of the ship from Plymouth to America, and contemporary art display Making It.

For Making It, Angel of the North sculptor Antony Gormley has made a new piece which is on West Hoe Pier.

The site is where Sir Francis Chichester landed in 1967 as the first and fastest person to sail single-handed around the world by the clipper route.

Comprised of 22 cast-iron blocks, the work aims to evoke the yearning to travel across the horizon to establish a new life in another place, Mr Gormley said.

Related Topics

  • Plymouth
  • Art

More on this story

  • What is the Mayflower and why is it celebrated 400 years later?

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