Councillors hit out at critics of new Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum name, The Wilson
A COUNCILLOR has hit out at critics who had a "nervous breakdown" when it was agreed to rename Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum as The Wilson.
Borough council bosses voted unanimously to adopt the new name for the venue in Clarence Street, which is set to reopen after a lengthy £5.9 million refurbishment.
However, the authority's cabinet was quick to stress that while Edward Wilson, the town's renowned scientific explorer, will receive top billing, there will still be a place for the original name.
The council is hoping the rebrand will "reposition" the gallery on the national and international scene, making it a destination for art and history buffs from around the world.
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Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday evening, when the decision was made, Coun John Rawson (LD, St Peter's), cabinet member for finance, said the buzz about the "wonderful new museum" cannot be allowed to be "drowned out" by the "sound of complaining".
"One of the slightly depressing things about Cheltenham is the way that, when any change is proposed, people seem to line up to say it is crazy, or crass, or disastrous," he said.
"We seem not to be able to handle changes that other towns take in their stride. Even the slightest innovation seems to cause a nervous breakdown.
"We need to get out of this way of thinking if Cheltenham is to prosper and reach its full potential. We need to promote our town and its attractions with passion and confidence.
"We have a wonderful new museum which can draw in visitors from far and wide, and we cannot allow that to be drowned out by the sound of complaining or the clatter of toys being thrown out of the pram."
The borough council paid a creative consultancy £10,000 to come up with ideas for the museum's rebrand.
Three options were presented to the authority to choose from: The Wilson, C-MAG and 51. The choice of The Wilson has received some heavy criticism, particularly from Cheltenham Civic Society.
John Henry, from the group, said the venue needs a name that will attract people to visit the town.
He said: "Wilson was an important local man but he does not have a particularly national or international reputation and his reputation was for exploring and not for what the art gallery has a reputation for." He added: "It needs a name that either refers to Cheltenham or to somebody who is more associated with what the collection contains." The Wilson is due to open its doors on October 5.