The first exhibition to grace these custom-built spaces is Pop Art in Print from the extensive print collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
This is the first time a national touring exhibition of this calibre has been shown in Banbury, and marks a key turning point in the cultural regeneration of the town.
Bringing together over 60 works by more than 30 artists, this fascinating exhibition includes work by giants of the Pop Art scene including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Peter Blake alongside Damien Hirst and other contemporary artists influenced by the modern age’s most important art movement.
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Vibrant, sexy and very much of the moment, Pop Art reflected a fascination with celebrities and brands. Inspired by commercial graphics and popular culture, the movement generated an innovative culture of printmaking.
Pop artists recognised the potential of prints to communicate ideas quickly and cheaply, creating art which both mirrored and critiqued the ‘American Dream’.
The redevelopment of the museum has taken place during the autumn, and the beautiful new gallery will now be large enough to host touring exhibitions from national museums and collections, helping to put Banbury’s arts and culture offer on the map, where it belongs.
Museum director Simon Townsend said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be hosting this inspiring exhibition in our new gallery.
“It’s the first time an exhibition from the V&A has been shown here, and we feel honoured to be able to offer the people of Banburyshire the chance to experience world class art in their own town.
“This is just the start of our plans to bring great art and culture to the town, and we’re determined to show the region how great Banbury is!”
The exhibition opens with a pop-tastic day for all of the family, from 10am to 5pm.
As well as exploring the new spaces, and experiencing world class art, there will be a range of free creative activities for families to get hands-on with.
Kids can get decorated 1960s-style by a face painter, make party poppers, coasters and cartoon strips, with live music, which will help create a really special day to celebrate the launch of the new-look museum.
The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm, and Sundays, from 11am to 3pm from December 1, until March 3.
Highest calibre of exhibitions on show
Banbury Museum welcomes the highest calibre of exhibitions yet after completing a redevelopment project to increase the size of their special exhibitions gallery.
Since becoming a charitable trust in 2013, the board and staff have been working hard to share their passion for history and culture by continuously developing and improving what is on offer.
This year, the museum closed its gallery doors to embark on the biggest development project since it opened in Castle Quay in 2002.
More than £300,000 was raised from trusts and foundations, private donations and the community – enabling them to go ahead with an ambitious project to redevelop the first floor of the museum and create The PYE Gallery.
The gallery is now 40 per cent larger which will allow the museum to bring a wider range of national touring exhibitions to Banbury from major museums and collections.
A museum spokesman said: “Banbury Museum is completely committed to bringing the highest quality exhibitions to our local community and north Oxfordshire and this project and outcome shows the direction in which the museum is moving towards delivering a very exciting programme.
“As the town centre gears up for a vibrant and commercial regeneration the museum will become a key player in this budding cultural hub, alongside The Mill Arts Centre and Castle Quay 2.”
The museum also hopes the improvements will assist in bringing more visitors to the area and help to revive the town centre which holds so much historical value and cherished stories.
Not only is the museum improving its range of exhibitions, but an expanded events programme, ranging from lectures, adult workshops, family activities and more, will be coming from January.
For more, visit www.banburymuseum.org or on social media @BanburyMuseum on Facebook and Twitter.