Luton’s ‘magnificent’ museum set to open after £3.5m revamp

Wardown Museum
Wardown Museum

Wardown House, Museum and Gallery will be officially reopened by Luton’s Mayor Cllr Tahir Khan at midday on Saturday, April 8 following a £3.5m revamp.

Since closing its doors in March 2016, the museum has been undergoing a major transformation – gone are the traditional exhibition spaces and museum displays, now visitors can get hands-on and up close with Luton’s history.

Step back in time and glimpse an insight into a wealthy family home during the Victorian Period.

Visitors can select an interactive trail to follow around the museum; browse through the rooms, including the Billiards Room with an interactive billiards table, the Morning Room with beautiful sculpted ceilings, feature fireplaces and musical instruments, and the Dressing Room and Bedroom of a Victorian lady, which overlook the impressive gardens of Wardown Park below, to name but a few.

The staircase is now adorned with a specially commissioned chandelier, brightening the whole hallway. The Dining Room offers a range of delicious food and refreshing drinks, visitors will be able to sit in comfort overlooking the park, the perfect venue for Afternoon Tea.

Some of the displays have been revamped, such as the ever-popular Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment Gallery, which now resides on the first floor. Accessibility has been improved throughout the building too, with lift access to the first floor.

Karen Perkins, Director of Arts and Museums at Luton Culture, said: “This project has been a real labour of love for everyone involved, from the project management team, our curators, Museum Makers volunteers, the builders, and all the other teams.

“They have all contributed to the transformation of this building into a beautiful museum and public space that everyone can be proud of. The Latin inscription on the side of the house translates as Spacious House Receiving Friends and it really sums up what we feel about the new museum.”

Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Borough Council, said: “The new-look Wardown House is a magnificent attraction and a welcome development in preserving Luton’s cultural heritage, as it tells the story of Luton’s transformation into the vibrant town it is today. This is another milestone demonstrating that Luton continues to change at pace through the £1.5 billion investment framework and our credible vision to be an established and inclusive cultural and heritage destination that offers something for everyone.”

The redevelopment has been made possible in part by National Lottery players, thanks to a £1.8m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: “The reopening of Wardown Museum is exciting news for Luton’s heritage and for National Lottery players who have made this possible.

“The refurbishment highlights the museum’s original use as a private house providing a wonderful backdrop to the fascinating stories and objects held in the Museum’s collections. We’re delighted that people of all ages and backgrounds will have new opportunities to discover Luton’s journey to becoming the diverse and cultural community it is today.”

The museum is situated on Old Bedford Road, Luton, LU2 7HA; open daily from 10am – 5pm (from 14 February – 31 October), and open daily 10am – 4pm (from 1 November – 13 February).

It is still free entry, and there is free parking nearby. There is also an entrance with limited parking on New Bedford Road. Find out more by visiting www.lutonculture.com.

Other trusts funded £1.6m and the remaining amount still needs to be raised by public donations and fundraising efforts.

If you would like to get involved, or would like to donate towards this project, visit www.lutonculture.com/support-us for more information.

The reopening event for Wardown House is being supported by Galliard Homes.