TRANSFORMING Bradford’s empty, historic buildings into museums could be the key to rejuvenating its traditional high street, the Civic Society has said.
It follows a call from the English Civic Museums Network to fund local museums in a bid to “reawaken English city centres” and has since led to a debate in Bradford about the future of the district’s museum provision and other cultural assets.
Ideas include the development of a Hockney museum and sculpture trail which weaves through the city centre’s cobbled streets as well as a Museum of Bradford.
Bradford Civic Society has previously called for derelict listed buildings in the city centre to be earmarked for cultural use and has hopped on the latest national debate to canvas Bradfordians for their opinions.
There’s currently more than 10 museums and galleries in Bradford district, from its much loved National Science and Media Museum to the Peace Museum and Cartwright Hall.
Several respondents have suggested that the Bradford Industrial Museum – currently situated at Moorside Road in Eccleshill – could be relocated to a more central mill site to better tell the story of Bradford. Other suggestions included a Museum of Migration; a museum dedicated to Bradford’s wool heritage; a new museum built on the former Royal Mail site at Forster Square; and even a micro museum of design, partly inspired by the growing design archive housed at Assembly on North Parade. One respondent was keen to point out that Bradford already had a number of impressive museum sites, and suggested that resources may be better spent on boosting these collections and safeguarding staff.
The debate comes as Bradford Council and Bradford 2025 have jointly released a new district-wide survey to understand what culture means to people in Bradford – with the results feeding into a new 10-year cultural strategy for the Bradford District.
Si Cunningham, Chairperson of Bradford Civic Society and part of the Bradford 2025 bid team, said: “There’s a growing body of evidence – as shown in a recent study by the Arts Council – that culture will play a leading role in the rejuvenation of traditional high streets, so it feels like an important time to be having this debate in Bradford.
“I think it’s clear that a lot of people feel that the story of Bradford could be told in a more coherent and engaging way, perhaps in the form of a new museum site, but there are many other interesting ideas out there too.
“Those who work in the cultural sector appear to be listening very carefully to what the people of Bradford want for the district, so I’d certainly urge people to come forward and have their say.”
The current Bradford Council culture survey can be found via Survey Monkey on https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/TAOnline