Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery is marking its 125th anniversary today and will mark the year by looking back on its history, celebrating recent successes and unveiling exciting plans for the future.
The Museum was officially opened to the public on 8 November 1893, by James Atkinson Wheatley, the Mayor of Carlisle. Over the following years a Public Library and Schools of Art, Science and Technology were incorporated.
The Schools of Art, Science and Technology, and finally the Public Library, moved to new premises in the city but the Museum and Art Gallery remained and has expanded several times over the past century.
In 2011 the Museum became an independent charitable trust, moving away from the direct control of Carlisle City Council, although the City Council still provide the majority of the Museum’s core funding today. In 2012 the Museum formed a consortium with Lakeland Arts and the Wordsworth Trust and this grouping is now recognised by Arts Council England as a National Portfolio Organisation.
Tullie House is a nationally important Museum and centre for learning which inspires hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It is also a tourist attraction that contributes significantly to the City’s visitor economy. The Museum aims to deliver outstanding art and heritage to everyone, from local to global. It achieves this by using its world class collections to create award-winning exhibitions and engagement programmes.
The Museum estimates that around 8% of the permanent collection is currently on public display. Whilst inspiring and award-winning exhibitions, engagement and learning activities provide ongoing access to these collections, further work is needed to create more permanent opportunities to display many more of the outstanding objects in the Museum’s care.
Thanks to support from the National Lottery, through a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Resilient Heritage grant, the museum has launched Project Tullie – a once in a lifetime opportunity in the museum’s 125th year, to reimagine and reinvent Tullie House to become a resilient museum for future generations.
Project Tullie can unlock the potential that the museum and the collections possess. It will refurbish spaces and provide a platform to share more stories, improve facilities, explore collections and celebrate the lives of the people of Carlisle and Cumbria.
'The cultural offer in the city is moving forward at pace and in our 125th year we want Tullie House to be not only at the centre of this activity but driving the change. All of our key stakeholders are offering their support – from the Heritage Lottery Fund to Arts Council England and from Cumbria County Council to Carlisle City Council – each of these strategic organisations sees the potential to build on the success of Tullie House to create a unique and special cultural and community resource in the heart of the city.’ Andrew Mackay, Director
Tullie House see their 125th year and Project Tullie to be the perfect opportunity to unlock this potential. They have begun to work with award-winning architectural firm Carmody Groarke and renowned business planning consultants, Counterculture, to assist with the process of creating a masterplan and blueprint for these exciting future developments.
Project Tullie is looking ahead to the next 10-15 years, where refurbished spaces will provide a platform for cultural activities in Carlisle, engage the community and help create a participatory institution that celebrates the diversity of Carlisle. Project Tullie aims to ensure that the sense of place that makes the city and region unique is captured.
The anniversary today, November 8th, is just the start of this journey but Tullie House want to ensure that there will be many ways for people to get involved over the next 12 months and beyond.
'In our 125th year it's the perfect time to reflect on our past and consider our future' Andrew Mackay, Director, Tullie House
''It is a really exciting time to be embarking on this project. The milestone of 125 years is very significant in helping us to consider how we have served the city in the past and how we develop for the future. For this development to be a success it is essential the people of Carlisle and local business are involved. We will also be looking at a programme of events to celebrate our 125th birthday over the next 12 months. These events will be a great opportunity to be part of capturing the special memories of Tullie House’s past, as well as being able to shape its present and future.' Amy Walker, Head of Programme & Development and Project Tullie Manager