Revamp will bring Norwich art galleries into 21st century

Two ever-popular art galleries at Norwich Castle Museum are going through a facelift.

The Norwich School galleries are going through a complete refurbishment – the Cotman Gallery and the centre of the Crome Gallery are now closed as the museum looks to bring its exhibition space into the 21st century.

All the old favourites will remain, from 16th century civic portraits to British art of the 18th and 19th centuries, and the grouping of the paintings is being revamped, actually putting more pieces from the collection – over 1,000-strong – on display.

The renovation will include a new lick of paint and better labelling and wall text, with bigger, eye-catching fonts and accessible explanations.

The intention is to give traditional fans a better service while drawing in young people.

There will be touch-screen displays for the visitors to interact with, but these will be understated and placed in such a way so as not to offend the traditionalists.

Short films will also feature, and there will be new trails to guide you around the exhibits.

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'We want to make the galleries more vibrant, contemporary and accessible,' said Dr Giorgia Bottinelli, the museum's curator of art.

'It should bring more people in. We do want to attract a younger audience, but also keep our established one.

'We're not going to re-invent the wheel, we have 200-year-old paintings; you can't revolutionise too much. It's about tasteful adaptation.

'The revolution is not coming to Norwich Museum.

'The new grouping of paintings will mean that even people who have been here before will see new things.'

The paintings are being reframed and low reflective glass will make details clearer.

In addition, and possibly more exciting for the purists, is that many of the works of art are being sent to the Hamilton Kerr Institute at the University of Cambridge, where experts will analyse them, providing fascinating insight into the artists' techniques and methods.

'Norwich art centres cater for a wide, enthusiastic and above all, supportive local audience,' Dr Bottinelli added.

Do you know a local facility working to improve? Call Joe Wilkes on 01603 772 439 or email