Walking into Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery (almost arbitrarily re-named The Wilson) is like walking into an unfinished hangar. The unpolished concrete, metal stairways and banisters and the open reception makes for an initial feeling of messiness and coldness.
The exhibition areas are laid out in a predictable and slightly tired sort of way. Many exhibitions had no interpretation or information at all. The 'newseum' section was probably the best of all this, but the rest left me feeling cold and uninformed.
The older part of the museum, save for a bit of a repaint, remains essentially unchanged. Certain sections are quite interesting, but these spaces do feel tired and old. Despite being called The Wilson, the museum hardly does justice to the antarctic explorer: this room was cramped and cheap-looking. There are some excellent collections of furniture in the museum but many pieces were displayed as if for sale in a junk shop.
All in all I was a bit disappointed. Having waited so long I was expecting the museum to deliver something a bit more interesting. As it is, the older sections of the museum remain unchanged (some have inaccurate information, especially in the sections relating to 'modern' Cheltenham, which have not been altered for some time) and the newer sections do not use the space effectively.
As with any museum, it is definitely worth a visit. However, I can't imagine why I'd visit again.
(I should say that the new reception area, whilst cold and too industrial, does provide a lovely pathway to Cheltenham Minster).
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