There is a question-mark hanging over the future of the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum after the recently published Lisburn Urban Area Economic Review report was highly critical of the facility.
The report, which was produced in partnership with Lisburn City Council and Lisburn Chamber of Commerce, is aimed at boosting the economy and attracting visitors to the city centre.
As part of the report’s recommendations it was proposed that the museum, which is based in a landmark building at the heart of the city centre, be reviewed as “fit for purpose.”
The museum, which expanded to incorporate the Irish linen Centre in 1994, was criticised in the report, with the suggestion that the facility could be put to better use.
“The current museum attracts very little footfall to the city and the current range of offering available is not highly attractive,” stated the report.
“Given the likely increased prominence of Market Square post the Public Realm Project, the museum would provide an excellent flagship location to champion innovation. We understand the complexities and challenges around layout and running costs but would ask the Council to review all opportunities which may help develop its potential to become an attraction within its current model and more critically ensure that it plays a part in our vision for the city centre.”
The report made several suggestions for making use of the council-run facility, including offering a ‘pop-up’ location for graduate textile design students at the University of Ulster Art College to market their modern design wear and create a fashion hub, which, the report said, would “give a modern feel to the city.”
The report continued: “Another option is to create a dedicated art/business incubation/retail location in Castle Street close to SERC and the new Public Realm Area.”
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who, together with former Mayor Margaret Tolerton, commissioned the report, said it was important that the best use was made of the facility.
“The Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum are important parts of our heritage but clearly there is a need to do more to make this a top class attraction within the city centre,” said Mr Donaldson.
“We want to see more effective use of the space to enhance what the museum has to offer and make it more attractive for visitors.
“The Linen Centre is really the centrepiece of Market Square and with the Public Realm works coming to a conclusion, we want to see a lot more people coming to that part of the city centre.
“We will be working closely with the Council to make use of this space to attract more visitors to both the city centre and the museum.”