Marking 50 years of art and culture

Arts and exhibitions museums officer Niel McGregor, withSt Leger memorabilia and paintings on display at the Mansion House and Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery. Picture: Liz Mockler D6763LM
Arts and exhibitions museums officer Niel McGregor, withSt Leger memorabilia and paintings on display at the Mansion House and Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery. Picture: Liz Mockler D6763LM
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Doncaster’s historic museum and art gallery is set to celebrate 50 years of bringing art and culture to the town.

The museum and art gallery, built in 1964, was the first institution of its kind to be funded from local rates, and was part of an ambitious project to bring art to Doncaster on a large scale.

It was also the first gallery to be opened outside London after the Second World War.

“It was a very ambitious project, to bring something of this scale to a town the size of Doncaster,” said Neil McGregor, assistant manager of exhibitions, art and outreach at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery.

He added: “We have a collection of over 2,000 items at the museum.

“We have always tried to reflect history where we can, and have put some great exhibitions on over the years.”

To celebrate the institution’s half century anniversary, two exhibitions are looking at the design and construction of the building.

The exhibitions bring together some 1960s artefacts from the museum’s collection, including a cocktail dress by Christian Dior and toys played with by local children.

Some of the original architect’s drawings will be on display, as well as archive material looking at the redevelopment of Doncaster in the 1960s.

The drawings demonstrate how the museum and art gallery, based on Chequer Road, formed the only fulfilled part of a plan to introduce a new ‘civic quarter’ to the town in 1964.

“In a way some of the new civic quarter continues where the plans 50 years ago left off,” added Neil.

Councillor Bob Johnson, Doncaster Council cabinet member for culture, said: “Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery really is a fantastic and family friendly place to visit.

He added: “Over the years it has just got better and better.

“This includes work to research, revitalise and care for the museum’s fossil collection, a £130,000 refurbishment scheme, and the reopening of the Regimental Museum of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry KOYLI, alongside countless popular exhibitions and events.

“It is at the heart of our civic and cultural quarter and has something to offer people of all ages.”

To mark the 50th anniversary a lecture will be held at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery on October 31 at 10.30am, about the building’s design and 1960s art in design in general.

Tickets cost £5.

At the forefront of the town’s cultural community

* The Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery replaced a previous museum building that was on the Waterdale site once occupied by Doncaster College that is now home to Doncaster Council’s Civic Office.

* The design team for the building was led by the architect Leslie Tucker.

* The museum was completed at a cost of £290,000, and was opened to the public officially by Princess Margaret, accompanied by her husband the Earl of Snowdon, on Friday, October 30, 1964.

* The museum opened to collections of natural history, archaeology, local history, fine and decorative art. It also houses the Regimental Museum of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.