£4.5m Lottery funding for Gainsborough’s House redevelopment

The project to redevelop Gainsborough’s House has received £4.5m National Lottery funding to transform the artist’s Suffolk home into a regional hub for heritage and culture.

The centre will be focused around Thomas Gainsborough’s Grade I listed home in Sudbury Suffolk. The existing museum, set in a former labour exchange building at the back of Gainsborough’s House will be transformed over the next five years.

The aim is to turn the site into a national centre that will celebrate the life and work of renowned 18th-century artist, Thomas Gainsborough.

The house will be extended and renovated and it is expected that the project will create around 90 jobs, including five two-year apprenticeships.

A regional hub for heritage and culture

“This is tremendous news, not just for Gainsborough’s House, but for Sudbury, Suffolk and nationally,” said Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House. “We will be able to reach more people and be a regional hub for heritage and culture, offering nationally important exhibitions as well as serving the local community. The Suffolk landscape has inspired and continues to inspire artists and our project celebrates this heritage and culture and will drive the regeneration of Sudbury.”

The new centre will tell the story of how Gainsborough rose from merchant’s son to high society portraitist. Despite his preference for landscape painting, the artist became best-known for his portraits. He was a founding member of the Royal Academy.

“Gainsborough’s House tells the story of one of Britain’s most important artists within the environs of his family home,” said Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund. “Once completed, The National Centre for Gainsborough will be a landmark tourist attraction, bringing a significant amount of income into Sudbury and beyond.”

The centre will look at how Gainsborough, along with his fellow artist and friend, John Constable, took inspiration from the Suffolk landscape.

Museum outreach projects

Gainsborough’s House already works closely with the wider community. In the future it will expand outreach, focusing primarily on the Cornard Wood area.

Artsmart will provide regular children’s clubs while the Museum Club will continue to work with adults with learning difficulties. In addition, an artist in residence will work with youth groups, young offenders and their families, and adult prisoners, offering inspiration from the collection.

A community gallery will be included and there will be opportunities for National Lottery players to visit the museum for free.