BOSSES at the National Glass Centre have unveiled “ambitious” plans to redevelop the attraction in the new year.
The centre, which owned by Sunderland University, will close to the public in January to allow work to begin. It will be closed for about six months.
The project will see the entire upper floor remodelled, with a new heritage gallery, upgraded education and resource rooms and improved teaching and learning facilities and more floorspace for exhibitions.
It comes after a first phase of development earlier this year created a new glass studio and shop.
James Bustard, director of the Glass Centre, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the National Glass Centre to become a true asset to the city of Sunderland, a jewel on the banks of the Wear.
“The building’s transformation will enable us to deliver our vision of a Centre of excellence, supporting the production, exhibition and enjoyment of contemporary glass.
“We are committed to making the centre one which is valued by the local community in Sunderland and one whose reputation stretches across the North East region as well as nationally and internationally.”
The project is due to be completed in Summer 2013, and bosses have promised a high-profile launch event for the centre’s grand reopening.
Three exhibitions said to be of national significance will accompany the launch, along with an “ambitious” community engagement programme.
Mr Bustard said the re-development will strengthen the National Glass Centre’s reputation as a centre for national excellence.
He added: “With local impact and international reach, the centre will build on the unique heritage of Sunderland, bringing to the City a premier visitor attraction and unique cultural venue.”
The Glass Centre, including its shop and restaurant, will be completely closed to the public from January 1.
But bosses say the centre will run a number of “extensive outreach programmes” with Sunderland schools and the community.
It will also continue to hold a selection of pre-booked events including adult courses, studio experiences and family activities on the centre’s ground floor.
For more information, visit www.nationalglasscentre.com
What’s happening with the National Glass Centre?
Phase One: Complete
The first phase of the development of the National Glass Centre took place between May and September 2012, with a focus on new accommodation for Sunderland University’s Art and Design Foundation programme on the lower ground floor of the building.
The teaching and studio “hot-shops” have been brought together and reoriented, greatly improving visitors’ experience of the live production of glass, as well as our teaching facilities.
The shop, next to the hot glass studio, has been remodelled to create a better shopping environment and improve merchandising.
Phase Two: January to Summer 2013
Phase Two will see significant investment in the upper ground floor galleries. This phase will double the exhibition and events capacity of the centre, upgrading and modernising the gallery spaces, education and resource rooms and enabling the Centre to better meet the needs of the visitor, schools and groups.