Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury celebrates first anniversary of expansion opening as visitor numbers double from pre-Covid era
Visitor numbers to a museum celebrating Sudbury’s most famous son have increased twofold from pre-Covid levels, it was announced on the first anniversary of the gallery’s major expansion.
Gainsborough’s House is marking one year since its reopening in November 2022, following extensive renovations to the Grade I-listed site, including the launch of a new £10-million National Centre for Thomas Gainsborough.
On Thursday, it was revealed that, in the 12 months since the ribbon was cut on the new three-storey gallery building, the number of people visiting the gallery is double the figure recorded in 2019 – the last year prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, June and July were highlighted as the best ever months for visitors going through the door of the gallery, which also showcases the works of many of Gainsborough’s contemporaries, as well as newer artists.
Dr Steven Parissien, the new director of Gainsborough’s House, stated these visitor figures were more than they could have hoped for, at a time when many heritage and cultural sites around the UK were struggling to navigate the post-Covid landscape.
“The wonderful new facilities have helped propel us into the front rank of Britain’s regional art galleries – and to anchor Sudbury even more firmly on the visitor map,” said Dr Parissien.
“Our new exhibitions – staged in our new, environmentally-controlled galleries, which are the envy of many other galleries nationwide – celebrate the best of old and new.
“These shows have already won the plaudits of critics, both regionally and nationally.”
To coincide with the anniversary, Gainsborough’s House has also announced the launch of a new programme of activities aimed at all ages, including talks, films, family sessions and school projects.
In addition, admission for anyone aged 18 and under is now free of charge, in the hope that this will encourage a younger audience to engage with the arts.
Dr Parrisien, who took over the leadership role in August, replacing long-time director Mark Bills, added: “All this will, we hope, help us to spread a keen awareness of Sudbury’s cultural heritage and potential to both young and old.”