An artist's impression of the PMAG redevelopment

Decolonisation among plans for Potteries Museums and Art Gallery development

Image: An artist's impression of the PMAG redevelopment

Plans reveal a potential ‘wrap-around’ extension, the co-location of the City’s Archive Service, and the reinterpretation of its collections.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has published new details surrounding its development plans for the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

The phased redevelopment includes the redevelopment of its Spitfire Gallery, the co-location of the City’s Archive Service and plans for a wrap-around extension.

Councillor Abi Brown, Leader – Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Our vision for the renewal of PMAG will enable us to tell the full story of our past and excite people about our future. The museum will become the hub of an International Centre for Ceramics, spanning the extraordinary collections across The Potteries and beyond, underpinned by excellence in education, research and curatorial expertise.”

Alongside building development, plans include the reinterpretation of its collections. In its ‘Development Prospectus & Vision’ document, the museum said it will “endeavour to dispel historical patriarchal narratives” and take the opportunity to “decolonise our collections and celebrate the cultural diversity of our City and the positive impact of inward migration.”

It continues: “Themes such as The History of Settlement,Industry and Transport, Sports, Pastimes, Local Traditions, and Literature will be explored that embody inclusivity and place the City’s heritage in a global context from a range of contemporary perspectives.”

The reinterpretation is hoped to “create a symbol of our aspiration and determination to make Stoke-on-Trent a cultural destination of national and international celebrity using our collections to explore the impacts of industrialisation and subsequent global issues.”

The first phase of the development is the redevelopment of the Spitfire Gallery, and a Mark XVI World War II Spitfire, restored in 2021 in a new purpose-built gallery.

Phase two will see the co-location of the City’s Archive Service, amalgamating the collection of pottery archives and ceramic library with the museum collections to create an integrated research facility for the study of ceramics and local history. Work is currently underway ahead of an opening to the public in the summer of 2023.

In its third phase is the potential for a ‘wrap-around’ extension to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, currently in the application stage and said to be decided in “early 2023”.

The museum is currently working on a capital development bid to enable the construction of an extension which it said “will improve existing visitor facilities and enable the provision of a reading room for the study of archive collections.”

Phases four and five include the re-interpretation of its collections, in part to be carried out in collaboration with Keele University to tell the little known story of the 1942 Lidice atrocity and Staffordshire University., and a “medium-term ambition” to create a further extension to the
museum creating a dedicated gallery space.

Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum said: “It is vital that The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery retains its strength as a regional ceramics hub – recognised and revered as it is globally for its world-class collection of Staffordshire ceramics.”