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Posted 24.07.20

The Box, Plymouth’s new £46 million invested arts & heritage space opens this September

By Naomi Girdler

The Box, Plymouth’s largest multi-disciplinary arts and heritage space, will be reopening to the public on 29 September, neighbouring Plymouth College of Art's main-campus, Tavistock Place.

Originally due to open in May 2020 and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Box has now announced it will be opening to the general public from 10-5pm, Tuesday to Sunday from 29 September. There will also be a private viewing weekend from 25-27 September for Plymouth residents who took part in a local ballot earlier this year.

Situated on the doorstep of our city-centre campus and undergraduate building Tavistock Place, The Box offers a vital platform for industry collaboration and a chance to rediscover Plymouth's rich history and heritage. From photographing and archiving collections to creating costumes for The Box, our students are already benefitting from The Box's highly-specialised expertise and gaining experience behind the scenes at a £46 million invested, landmark cultural venue.

Initially three separate buildings, The Box’s ground-breaking design has completely transformed Plymouth’s former City Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library building and St Luke’s Church to create a cutting-edge, interactive cultural centre with 13 new galleries and exhibition spaces, a striking elevated archive, learning and research facilities and a brand new public square.

“In our post-lockdown world The Box is going to be a place where people can reconnect with each other, Plymouth’s history and its future.”
- Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council

In preparation for the opening, The Box has put a number of safety and social distancing measures in place to help visitors feel as comfortable as possible. These include:

  • Free admission by advance ticket only, with an easy to follow booking system at (tickets can be booked from 10 September)
  • Reduced capacity and clearly marked one way systems in key areas of circulation
  • Increased vigilance by staff and volunteers
  • Hand sanitising facilities and enhanced cleaning
  • A temporary reduction in on site events alongside an enhanced digital offer

In line with government guidance, the wearing of face coverings will be encouraged for all visitors over 11 years and mandatory in the retail area.

Tudor Evans OBE, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “This is such an exciting moment for the city and it’s fantastic to finally be able to announce these dates. The Box is a vital part of our recovery programme and it feels like it’s been a long time coming now. Staff have worked so hard over the last few months to maintain momentum and keep the public engaged with the project. They’ve also put in a huge effort to respond to the current government guidelines to ensure that everyone who visits will have a safe and enjoyable experience. I hope everyone is as proud and excited as I am and can’t wait for the doors to open. In our post-lockdown world The Box is going to be a place where people can reconnect with each other, Plymouth’s history and its future.”

Students from Plymouth College of Art's BA (Hons) Commercial Photography course photograph and archive a Rysbrack sculpture

The Box will open with three major exhibitions including Mayflower 400, the largest commemorative exhibition featuring over 300 objects and co-curated with the Wampanoag Native American Advisory Committee, as well as boasting nine permanent galleries showcasing The Box’s incredible collections. These collections include 14 monumental ships’ figureheads, thousands of natural history specimens, a full-size woolly mammoth replica, paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures and ceramics from the city’s art collections, objects, film and photography from its media collections and documents, maps and plans from its archives.

Admission will be free to all exhibitions and galleries apart from the ‘Mayflower 400: Legend and Legacy’ exhibition. This will be free for Plymouth residents and under 18s with a small £5 charge for non-Plymouth residents who are over 18.

The Box Kitchen & Bar and The Little Box café will be serving a range of tasty meals and snacks (advance booking recommended). A new shop will also be open and will offer a ‘click and collect’ service for those who want to maximise their time in the galleries and exhibitions or browse online before or after their visit.

A bookable onsite schools service covering a wide range of curriculum topics, and bookable appointments for researchers will also be available from 29 September.