Plans to transform former IKEA building into major arts hub revealed

Major plans to transform the former IKEA building in Coventry into an arts hub which would become home to some of the country’s greatest works of art have been revealed.

Coventry City Council plans to buy the building and convert it into a multi-purpose collections and cultural facility, which the authority says would contribute to “a lasting physical, economic and cultural legacy” from Coventry’s upcoming year as UK City of Culture.

The project would be delivered through a partnership between Coventry City Council, Arts Council England’s Arts Council Collection, Culture Coventry Trust and Coventry University in collaboration with the Coventry City of Culture Trust.

The multimillion-pound project aims to provide greater public access to Coventry’s cultural and heritage collections. It is hoped this could include partnerships with the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum to showcase national works through curated exhibitions.

The scheme would see Arts Council England relocate the Arts Council Collection from two current collection stores to Coventry.

Culture Coventry Trust, which runs the iconic Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and the Coventry Transport Museum, would also take space to relocate some of the city’s collections not on display in the museums.

Moving items from part of the remaining 14th Century Whitefriars Monastery will also enable further opportunities to bring the Grade I listed building back into public use.

Councillors will vote on the plans next week.

Cllr David Welsh, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for housing and communities which covers culture and the arts, said: “This exciting and amazing proposal really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something Coventry people can be rightly proud of as well as a national and international centre of excellence that will be a lasting legacy from our year as UK City of Culture.

“A national Collections Centre would bring together the foremost national arts and cultural partners and their respective national collections alongside the city’s collections, to create a consolidated national base that would be at the heart of Coventry city centre.

“It would also free-up and create exciting opportunities for the much-loved Whitefriars Monastery that has been closed to the public for too long, while our local teams would benefit from working alongside a national collection management team.”

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: “Arts Council England welcomes this announcement to move to the next stage in developing a major landmark collection centre in Coventry.

“The new facility would ensure that we not only position our current Collection securely in the heart of this country but also enable work with partners to continue supporting living artists, create increased opportunities for students to research our unique collection and, most important, ensure these works reach more people in more places around the country.

“The partnership in the new centre also would be a fitting way to mark Coventry’s City of Culture legacy. We look forward to working with Coventry City Council and other partners to try to achieve this.”