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occupied the site. "We knew there would be archaeology and had planned for it," says Project Manager Matt Soules, "but we hadn't bargained for it being as complex as it turned out to be."They also found rotting foundations, and caverns where structural support should have been, so much of the building has had to be underpinned. The intricate façade was also found to be in very bad repair; much of the carving and mosaic-work having to be remade by modern craftspeople."There was wet rot, dry rot and death-watch beetle in the frontage," says Janice McGuinness. "Practically everything that could have been wrong with the building was wrong."But the opening of the Beaney will mark the fi nal part of a 12-year programme to switch the emphasis of the city of Canterbury from a medieval centre of pilgrimage to a modern cultural centre. Its more prominent place refl ects the new demography of Canterbury which, with three universities in its precincts, has 30,000 students to match its 45,000 residents.An estimated £75m has been invested in the programme - a process initiated when Colin Carmichael became Chief Executive of the City Council in the late 90s. He recruited McGuinness from Newcastle where she had been working with the Arts Council on developing the Tyneside cultural footprint."Till then culture operated in the margins in Canterbury," she says. "Colin restructured the authority creating a new department, and I came in 2000 to head it up. "There'd been massive cultural development in the North East - visionary, with enormous risks that were fully justifi ed because they have had a massive impact," she says. A similar approach was needed in Canterbury. In the north of England, the impression had been that resources were concentrated on the south, but she discovered that they hadn't permeated to Canterbury. "All partnership here was immature, the 34 NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2012 BEANEY

Visitor information Open: September 2012Address: 18 High Street, Canterbury CT1 2RAContact: Canterbury Museums Services 01227 452 747www.futurebeaney.comAdmission: FreeBy train: Canterbury West Rail Station Top left: Van Dyck portrait of Sir Basil Dixwell, c 1638Bottom left: Donkey, Goat and Kid by Thomas Sidney Cooper, 1838sector was fragmented, investment in arts and culture was ridiculously small, advantage hadn't been taken of the [National] Lottery. But aspiration and ambition has started to prise money, so in a sense we've had a perfect storm. People really want things to change."They decided to base a 10-year plan - which stretched to 12 years as fi nancial constraints took a fi rmer grip - on the competition to be Britain's European Capital of Culture in 2008. They knew they wouldn't win, but aimed for the shortlist, which they also missed. "It was a blow because we had an excellent plan, so good that we decided go ahead with it anyway."In partnership with Kent County Council, the plan included developing festivals in the city and across East Kent, and helping local arts organisation to form connections with each other and local businesses, and to grow. The recommendation in a report to the council that the commitment to museums and culture should be cut back was ignored, and a council, which had vacillated between the three main parties for control, found itself united behind the culture plan, a unity that has never wavered. The two large capital projects in the historical north and west of Canterbury were to balance the commercial development in the east of the city, Whitefriars, with a new theatre and a museum, clustering near the Romanesque/Gothic masterpiece, the cathedral. The £17.4m Marlowe Theatre opened in October, a few yards from the fi nal development, the Beaney. Two unremarkable villas and a disused factory behind the old museum and library were acquired and demolished, allowing the new build which has doubled the space. The library now occupies a new basement area and part of the ground fl oor; the museum part of street level, mezzanine and fi rst fl oors. The old Beaney was a pioneer in that it combined library and museum services in a way that is being pursued in other urban centres now, but it was built without visitor services - no lifts, no café, not even a public toilet. They are all, of course, incorporated in the new facilities, with a second wheelchair-accessible entrance in Best Lane, adjacent to the High Street. "It is lighter and more welcoming," says Joanna Jones, "with a real emphasis on people exploring and engaging with the collections."Alcoves in the walls have been turned into windows between galleries, roofs have glass ceilings allowing natural light, and the artifi cial lighting has been devised to match the natural ambience. Artists are creating kaleidoscopes to be inserted into walls throughout the building, giving new light passages but also references to the collections for children in particular to enjoy.Contemporary art is to have a new emphasis, and with the help of the Arts Council a triple window by the artist Laura Thomas has been commissioned, thick glass in which strands of fabrics are embedded. For the fi rst time the museum will have a temporary exhibitions gallery, made to government indemnity standards so that loans can be made from national collections. The fi rst show will include works by Henry Moore, some borrowed from the Tate Gallery and the Arts Council to complement Canterbury's own holdings of lithographs by Moore. To make a natural connection with the library, the second exhibition will feature the work of the Children's Laureate, author and illustrator Anthony Browne. It will be a collaboration with the children's book gallery in Newcastle, Seven Stories.Working artists will be asked to give demonstrations and workshops of their practices in a new ground fl oor community centre, and an education area is being added. The community will also have its own exhibitions, the fi rst being a photographic record of a year in the city's life incorporating the work of professionals down to seven-year-olds."We have a thriving group of volunteers, many of them are students, and they contribute to the development of displays, the learning programme and are assisting with the recant of the collections," says Joanna Jones. "One of our priorities is to help people develop their skills to increase their employability, confi dence and creativity, and volunteering is an excellent way of achieving this."But the traditional collections will have an equally high profi le. The natural history holdings will have their own space, as will the objects collected by intrepid contributors, mostly from the 18th century - a Pacifi c paddle, a Greek vase and the Indian shield and mace given by Stephen Lushington, one-time MP for Canterbury and Governor of Madras early in the 19th century. The elements of the 'cabinet of curiosities' will also be present in a small gallery commemorating Dr Beaney. The institution is also an art museum with a substantial collection, including the prominent Van Dyck portrait of a local 17th-century member of Parliament, Sir Basil Dixwell, acquired in 2004 with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund for just under £1m. Other important pictures include a 16th- century Madonna and Child by the Flemish painter Bernard Van Orley, and a vibrant 17th-century anonymous painting of Geoffrey Chaucer. Canterbury also has an important collection of the work of the locally born 19th-century landscape painter Thomas Sidney Cooper. An accomplished painter too little regarded today, Cooper was a local philanthropist establishing an art school in Canterbury that survives as part of the University of the Creative Arts. Recognition is being restored with a gallery devoted to his work."The Beaney in 2012 is a seamless operation between the books, the objects and the paintings, and it's about being very relevant to people, to encourage them to keep coming back," says Joanna Jones. "It's telling them about their history and heritage, and what contemporary Canterbury is like as well." ? NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2012 35 THE BEANEY