Museum and Arts at The Box

Plymouth is a city with a rich seafaring heritage, stunning waterfront and close proximity to some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK.

Having seen major investment and development over recent years Plymouth is a lively contemporary city with a vibrant arts and cultural scene. Since hosting the British Art Show 7 in 2011 the city is increasingly being recognised as a South West leader in contemporary visual arts.

In 2016 two new aspirational arts plans were launched in partnership with Plymouth Culture, Plymouth City Council and cultural organisations in the city. Both the Public Art and Visual Arts Plan emphasise a strong commitment to the development of artistic talent and help to inform the city’s approach to commissioning contemporary artists.

In 2020 the city will play a major role in commemorations for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower setting sail from Plymouth to America. Plymouth has been named as the national lead for this major project in which the visual arts will play a key role.

The Box

The Box, Plymouth is a major £40m. redevelopment scheme and a symbol for the city’s current regeneration and future.

It will be a museum for the 21st century with extraordinary gallery displays, high profile artists and art exhibitions, as well as exciting events and performances that will take visitors on a journey from pre-history to the present and beyond.

Born from a need to protect and safeguard the future of some of Plymouth’s most valued archives and historic collections, Plymouth now has a unique opportunity to create something truly special, a visitor destination the city can be proud of and visitors will shout about.

The project has access to a rich and varied resource of material and stories, from films and images, to historic and contemporary artefacts and prized collections and documents.

The Box will include: an archive for Plymouth and the South West, preserving the heritage of the city and region for future generations; a museum with stories of Plymouth and how we reached out to the world and brought the world back to Plymouth; a location for contemporary art exhibitions, artist commissions and major touring shows.

Plans include the refurbishment of the existing Grade II listed museum and library buildings with a contemporary extension, plus transforming St Luke's Church into one of the largest GIS compliant galleries in the South West.

The Box will open as the flagship building for the Mayflower 400 commemorations in spring 2020.

For more information visit The Box website.


 Scheme Design Review [PDF, 8.14MB]

 The Box Interactive Galleries [PDF, 18MB]


In July 2016, the partners were successful in securing £15.8m from the Heritage Lottery Fund; the City Council has committed £20m (plus £1.4m for the refurbishment of the new Central Library); Arts Council England has awarded £4.2m; Coastal Communities £2m, Garfield Weston Foundation £250,000, Mayflower 400 £200,000, the Wolfson Foundation £128,000 and Plymouth University £150,000. The remaining capital funding is being sought from trusts, foundations and the private sector.

In June 2017 The Box was awarded NPO status by the Arts Council as a Band 3 organisation, increasing to £1.2 million a year for the two years after it opens.

Atkins, one of the World’s leading design, engineering and project management firms, was appointed in October 2014 to oversee the architectural and technical design for the building. Willmott Dixon has been appointed as the construction contractors.

The Exhibition Designers, Event Communications, were appointed in April 2015.

Building work began on site in January 2017. The buildings will be completed in October 2019, followed by exhibition fit-out, by moving in all the collections and by some soft openings/testing. The Box opens to the public in April 2020, in time for the Mayflower 400 year.

Meanwhile there is an ongoing outreach programme, The Box on Tour, in other venues across the city.