Wrexham 'spiritual home' for Wales football museum

By Huw Thomas
BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

Image source, Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Image caption,
The Wales football team in Cardiff in 1921 before their match with England. It ended goalless

A new national football museum for Wales should be created in Wrexham, a feasibility study has recommended.

But a new national gallery of contemporary art should be shared between existing galleries around Wales, a separate report has concluded.

The Welsh Government has published two major pieces of research which examined the case for both a sport museum and a new gallery.

Ministers have yet to decide whether to accept the recommendations.

The estimated cost of creating the football museum in Wrexham would be £4.4m and would involve redeveloping Wrexham Museum, requiring about £144,500 from the Welsh Government each year towards its running costs.

The report also recommended creating an expert panel to improve the recognition and protection of Wales' sporting heritage.

Sport museum report authors Just Solutions estimated about 80,000 visitors a year would go to the museum, and said Wrexham was chosen because it was the "spiritual home" of Welsh football.

Image source, E. Bacon/Getty IMages
Image caption,
Swansea beat Arsenal in the FA Cup at the Vetch Field in 1926
Image source, Mark Leech/Offside/Getty Images
Image caption,
Wales celebrations after Phil Thompson scores an own goal in the 1980 4-1 win over England at Wrexham
Image source, David Goddard/Getty Images
Image caption,
Wrexham is Wales' oldest professional club

"Wrexham is a great place for it," Welsh goalkeeping legend Neville Southall told BBC Radio Wales.

"It's nice to celebrate the past as well as looking forward to the future"

The town is already home to the Welsh Football Collection which is used as the basis for temporary exhibitions at Wrexham Museum.

The collection in Wrexham includes more than 1,000 items, dating more than 100 years and includes memorabilia from the likes of Billy Meredith, John Toshack and Ian Rush.

There are another 1,400 artefacts in a Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in Cardiff.

Test your Welsh football history knowledge with our trivia quiz. Do you make the first team - or are you as sick as a parrot?

A number of smaller sports museums already exist in Wales, including the CC4 Museum of Welsh Cricket at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff and the significant rugby collection held by Carmarthen Athletic RFC Museum of Sporting Memorabilia.

Costs associated with the football museum include hiring staff, redesigning Wrexham Museum's galleries, new displays and relocating existing collections.

A separate study into a new national gallery of contemporary art recommended a gallery without any buildings is first formed, with 50 newly commissioned works installed at sites across Wales.

In its second phase, the 'gallery' would use existing galleries for exhibitions, with report authors Event Communications saying it would be "defined by a distributed set of six to eight galleries across the nation" to create "a national, decentralised, greater whole".

Image caption,
Elfyn Lewis is one of the artists who may see their work in the new National Contemporary Art Gallery Wales

It said a brand, the National Contemporary Art Gallery Wales, would be applied to organisations that take part.

It said, in time, a headquarters for the decentralised gallery should also be built "serving as a porous and vibrant platform for contemporary art".

It estimates the cost for the three phases of the gallery to be between £50-180m.

The feasibility studies were commissioned last year as a condition of Plaid Cymru's support for the government's budget.

The proposals will be debated by assembly members on 27 November. The government has not confirmed when it will make a final decision.

More on this story

Related Topics