Anticipation builds for reimagined County Durham cultural venue

A first glimpse of an exciting new cultural venue for County Durham has been revealed.

Durham County Council has released a visualisation of what the former DLI Museum and Gallery will look like after it is transformed into a vibrant exhibition centre, gallery and café.

The move closely follows the county’s shortlisting for UK City of Culture 2025 and further demonstrates the importance placed on culture-led regeneration by the council and its partners.

With a design inspired by the original museum’s 1960s architecture, the new building will be almost twice the size and feature a dedicated space for the display of items from the DLI Collection and Archive. Its interior will be state-of-the-art, allowing the venue to host touring national and international exhibitions. A creative hub and artist in resident space, meanwhile, will provide a platform for creative professionals to showcase their works and for the public to get involved.

There will also be a new restaurant and café and the surrounding grounds will be landscaped to provide a place for quiet contemplation, as well as areas for creative activity.

The venue will complement plans for the new History Centre, providing a second dedicated site to showcase the DLI Collection and increasing access for the public to view exhibits and artefacts.

It will also provide a significant boost to the county’s culture and tourism sector, attracting more visitors and offering opportunities for people to connect with the region’s heritage and be a part of its creative future.

Durham County Council’s Cabinet agreed to redevelop the site last month, and Cllr Elizabeth Scott, the local authority’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, expressed her delight at seeing the project moving forward.

She said: “Together with the new History Centre, this venue will support our ambitions to build a more prosperous future for the county by attracting visitors to the city, boosting our creative and visitor economies and providing enriching cultural experiences for our communities.

“If successful, County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025 will deliver even more benefits of this kind. It’s an incredibly exciting time for County Durham and the wider region and, as we enter this crucial final stage of the competition, I ask everybody to continue to back the Durham 2025 campaign.”

Durham County Council submitted the countywide bid for UK City of Culture 2025 with the support of principal partner Durham University on behalf of Culture Durham, a partnership of more than 20 cultural organisations from across the county.

Last month, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced County Durham was one of just four places from the 20 locations that originally entered to make the shortlist.

Securing the title would bring colossal social and economic benefits to the entire region. This includes attracting millions of pounds worth of investment, significantly boosting visitor numbers and supporting the delivery of an inclusive and pioneering cultural programme with a lasting legacy.

Combined with culture-led regeneration already underway, including the redevelopment of the DLI Museum and Gallery, the title would not only strengthen County Durham’s reputation as a visitor destination, but as a place where creativity and innovation are nurtured.

DCMS is expected to announce the winner of UK City of Culture 2025 next month.

To find out more about the bid, visit www.durham2025.co.uk  or follow the Durham 2025 social media accounts at www.facebook.com/Durham2025, www.twitter.com/durham_2025 or www.instagram.com/Durham2025_

For more information about the creation of a new History Centre for County Durham, visit www.durham.gov.uk/historycentre

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