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 of 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 (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.”
The gallery was officially opened to the public by Princess Margaret, accompanied by her husband the Earl of Snowdon, on Friday, October 30 1964.
It opened to collections of natural history, archaeology, local history, fine and decorative art.
The building on Chequer Road was designed by the architect Leslie Tucker and was completed at a cost of £290,000.
To celebrate the institution’s half a century anniversary on two exhibitions 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 Mr Tucker’s drawings will be on display, as well as archive material looking at the redevelopment of Doncaster in the 1960s.
His drawings demonstrates how the museum and art gallery, based on Chequer Road, formed the only part of a plan to introduce a new ‘civic quarter’ to the town in 1964 that was fulfilled.
“In a way some of the new civic quarter continues where the plans fifty years ago left off,” added Neil.
Councillor Bob Johnson, Doncaster Council Cabinet Member for Culture said: “Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery is a fantastic and family friendly place to visit.
He added: “Over the years it has 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 re-opening 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.”
The musuem is home to a number of popular and permanent exhibits includingThe Danum Shield, which is the only example of this type of Roman Auxiliary shield ever to be found; a quagga foal specimen and Doncaster race cups, the earliest being the Doncaster Gold Cup from 1779, won by Magnum Bonum.
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.
The late Mr Tucker’s two sons are visiting from their homes in Switzerland to join in the celebrations.
They will be arriving in Doncaster on the afternoon of October 30 and staying for the lecture.
Tickets cost £5.
For more information contact the museum on 01302 734293, visit www.doncaster.gov.uk/museums or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening times are: Saturday- Sunday, 10.30am - 4.15pm and Wednesday - Friday, 10am - 4.30pm.