Petition launched against possible Norwich Castle Museum gallery changes

A Norfolk art society has launched an online petition after labelling proposals by Norwich's Castle Museum to stop showing contemporary exhibitions at an art gallery as distressing.

The Norfolk Contemporary Art Society has started the petition after they heard management at the museum were considering stopping showing contemporary exhibitions in the Timothy Gurney Gallery.

However, last night the head of Norfolk museums Vanessa Trevelyan said that the museum is proposing to keep the gallery open to the public during school holidays and at weekends.

The society understands that the gallery is set for a 'major' change of use with children's educational projects moved from the auditorium to the gallery.

To fight this, society chair Keith Roberts created the petition and he has already secured the support of Martin Battye, chair of the Norwich 20 Group, Amanda Geitner, head of exhibitions at Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, and Jacques Rogers, chair of the Outpost Gallery, in Norwich.

He said that as Norwich does not have a dedicated civic art gallery, the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society had always had close links with the museum.

'We want to see this collection continue to be as visible as possible, as a vital part of Norwich's heritage,' he said.

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Much published Norfolk artist Colin Self, 70, said the gallery was 'crucial' to the region.

Mr Self said: 'Art is important. There is such a wide spread of people who believe in art in this region, but there is just nothing for them. Can you imagine Norwich City Football Club if there was no Carrow Road? It is that important.'

However, Ms Trevelyan said: 'What we are proposing will make better use of the space, increase its appeal and appreciation for contemporary art, and still adhere to the wishes of the Gurney family with whose kind donation we were able to create the gallery.'

She added: 'During term time, on weekdays we are proposing to use the gallery to accommodate visits from school and sixth form students so that they can learn about contemporary art and gain inspiration for their own work.

'The Timothy Gurney Gallery was established with the specific remit to inspire young artists and this, together with the increasing year on year popularity of the Castle Museum for school visits, led us to come up with this suggestion.'

Ms Trevelyan said no final decision has been taken and that a wide range of people would be consulted before one was. She is due to meet Mr Roberts next week.

•Are you launching a petition? Contact reporter Richard Wood on 01603 772423 or email