The Whitaker embarks on a year of significant change.

14 January 2020

Almost 7 years on from being rescued from closure, 2020 will be a year of significant change and growth for The Whitaker, Rossendale’s Museum & Art Gallery located on Haslingden Road in Rawtenstall, Lancashire.

Since it’s take over in 2013, this historic site and museum has seen visitor numbers soar from 9,000 to 40,000 and be awarded a flurry of prestigious accolades. The unique approach of the newly formed Community Interest Company created a sustainable business approach that firmly placed The Whitaker at the centre of the community and created a place that local people enjoy visiting and felt pride in showing to others.

After a lengthy bidding process, which started in 2015, the Museum finally secured £1.7 million from Heritage Lottery Funding in early 2019, which would physically transform the adjacent barn and stables, reuniting it with the house and creating one larger destination, that would double the current size.

Completion of the project is expected in Winter 2020 and will see the site become a vibrant hub of local heritage and cultural experiences, connecting people to their history and provide an ongoing legacy of activities and programmes which will be accessible to all.

Currently closed as a result of their seasonal opening hours, the Whitaker will re-open to the public on Wednesday 22nd January, at which time in order to facilitate the ambitious project over an 11 month time period the current site will be subject to a period of adjustment and modification, and will not be operating some commercial aspects of the business.

From January 22nd the Whitaker Bar & Restaurant will not be in operation and the ability for visitors to purchase food or drink on site will not be available. The Museum & Art Galleries remain open to visitors as will the new ‘Heritage Lottery Fund’ consultation room, which will give the public the opportunity to track the progress of the build and explore the plans for the new building and extended spaces. Furthermore it is expected that the building will close completely to the public after Monday 13th April 2020 whilst extensive building works commence and the business waits to take on its new form under the Heritage Lottery Fund development. Regular updates of progress and the ability to ask questions will be hosted through the Whitaker social media channels and website.

In the meantime, the Whitaker 2020 Events programming for the first 3 months of the year promises to deliver the same outstanding offering that they have become recognised for. Commencing with a new exhibition opening and private viewing on Friday 7th February from 6:30pm.

‘Ordinary Don’t Mean Nothing (Reality is a lie, Life is Fiction)’ from artist, author and shaman, Runic John Spedding is a visual playground where the mundane rubs shoulders with the mythical, and where the commonplace coexists with the world of imagination, magic, dreams and visions. An opportunity to meet the artist is available on the evening of 7th February and the from 2pm on Saturday 8th February.

For further programming and upcoming event details please visit www.thewhitaker.org/whats-on or visit @whitakermuseum on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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