The Northampton Museum and Art Gallery have been successfully emptied in preparation for the start on a major expansion and refurbishment project.
A total of 3,125 items were catalogued, packed and removed by staff and volunteers following the museum’s closure on Sunday, February 19.
Volunteers have been thanked for their “tremendous efforts” after 62 of them put in a total of 577 hours of work.
Cllr Tim Hadland, Northampton Borough Council cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning, said: “Such quick completion of this stage of the project would not have been possible without all of the help and support provided by our volunteers.
“It is a huge amount of responsibility packing up the many rare objects we had on display and they carried out their work with a level of care and professionalism we are all very grateful for.
“I would personally like to thank them for their tremendous efforts which will help enable the contractor to get on site and start the mammoth task of reworking our museum space.”
This phase of the project will be carried out by Wates and has largely been funded from proceeds of the £8 million sale of the Sekhemka statue in 2014.
During the decant, a vast range of items were packed away, the largest being an eight-foot-tall Spanish papelero cabinet and the smallest a selection of tiny Mesolithic blade flints. Work continues to empty the museum stores.
Once finished, the expanded museum is expected to reopen in autumn 2018 and will feature: a new extension including new galleries and glass atrium linking the buildings, new temporary exhibitions gallery in the old Gaol Block, new shoe galleries, a Great Hall events space created, schools and activity space, a café, a shop and selling gallery.
The Hamtun and Shoe Town exhibitions, and current art gallery will remain.
Later phases of the work, including the complete transformation of County Hall’s old Gaol Block, are expected to be paid for through fundraising activity and grants.
There will be pop-up exhibitions and outreach sessions at locations across the town during the renovation, with school activities continuing to take place at Abington Park Museum as well as an increased programme of events.