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An ambitious £2.6 million project to transform Bangor’s Grade II listed Bishop’s Palace into an impressive new home for the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery is now well underway.

The project is being carried out for Gwynedd Council, who appointed Atkins Global as multi-disciplinary designers to develop the proposals and manage construction through to completion. The main contractors for the current Phase Two of works are R L Davies.

It is expected that work on the project – which will safeguard the future of the historic building and encourage local people and visitors alike to learn more about Gwynedd’s fascinating heritage – will be completed by the autumn of 2015. The scheme commenced in June 2013, with the fit out of the internal gallery spaces currently underway.

The Bishop’s Palace is a site of historical importance and is listed grade II in the CADW Register of Historic Buildings. It is the oldest building dated by inscription in Wales.

The aims of the project are to conserve the former Bishop’s Palace and interpret

the building’s history; create an open, welcoming, physically accessible space to be the new home of the museum; better display and interpret the collections, including art; create state of the art learning facilities suitable for schools and family learning, as well as fit out galleries to standards that would enable national and international loans.

Accommodation within the new building will include a reception area, museum exhibition space, art gallery, shop, café, flexible learning space suitable for up to 30 pupils, and staff work space, storage space and toilets.

An initial phase of works by R L Davies involved the refurbishment of offices nearby to accommodate staff working within the Bishops Palace building.

The current works include the demolition of walls; the laying of a new ground floor of concrete plank construction to give the client the right layout; the replacement of old timber lintels with concrete lintels and the cutting and blocking up of openings.

Other works comprise raising upper floors to align levels; the installation of new lifts; mechanical and electrical installation work, as well as new fire and security alarms and CCTV.

New internal walls are being constructed with some being timber backed to enable the museum to hang items for display; existing windows have been refurbished and new entrance doors have been installed. External works include landscaping, the creation of a car park and the formation of two new entrances with ramps.

Emyr Evans, Contracts Manager for RL Davies, said:

“The project has generated considerable interest and we have found a number of items of significance during the course of the work. One of the main challenges has been uncovering items of archaeological interest as the works progress.

“We are never sure what we are going to find and when something significant is discovered, a decision has to be made by the archaeologists, architects and planning services as to whether it can be removed or has to remain insitu. Discoveries so far include floor beams and joists dating back to the 16th century and external cobbled areas which originally formed pathways to the building entrances.”

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