The UK city of Coventry plans to open an enormous new arts center in a former IKEA store. The seven-story building, which has more than 580,000 square feet of floor space, will become among the biggest cultural hubs in the world.
The Coventry city council acquired the massive building, which was vacated by the Swedish furniture giant last February, after officials voted in favor of plans to convert it into a new national collections center.
The council did not say how much it paid for the site, but it plans to spend £1.31 million (around $1.8 million) to convert it into the planned hub, which is scheduled to open in August 2023, according to the BBC.
“This exciting and amazing proposal really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create something Coventry people can be rightly proud of, as well as a national and international center of excellence that will be a lasting legacy from our year as UK City of Culture,” the local councillor in charge of culture and the arts, David Welsh, said in a statement earlier this month.
The council says the venue could display around 8,000 works from the Arts Council collection, freeing up space in its two storage facilities, which are currently at capacity.
Darren Henley, the Arts Council’s chief executive, said the new facility in the West Midlands will also allow the city to support “living artists, create increased opportunities for students to research our unique collection and, most important, ensure these works reach more people in more places around the country.”
It will have room to display more than 8,500 works from the British Council Collection, and could also display works from the local Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and the Coventry Transport Museum that are currently in storage at Whitefriars Monastery, which would free the 14th-century landmark for restoration work that would enable it to reopen to the public.
Planning permissions to change the use of the building are expected to be approved before the end of 2021, with construction due to begin in May 2022.