A £3.5 MILLION renovation plan has been unveiled to transform a popular museum and art gallery and double the number of visitors within three years.

New proposals will give the public access to the Worthing building and see many more artefacts on display.

At present just 50 per cent of the building is accessible and only five per cent of the collection on display.

Worthing Borough Council’s culture department wants to double current visitor numbers at the museum and art gallery to 120,000 by 2020.

Cllr Heather Mercer, executive member for customer services, said: “I am completely knocked out by these proposals.

“They will transform the museum into a stunning space fit to be a jewel in the crown of our cultural offering.

“Our culture department has great plans to fill this new building with fantastic new displays and exhibitions not of course forgetting some of the most popular existing items.”

The proposals could see the museum become a national centre for costume research.

It currently holds one of the most significant collections in the UK with more than 30,000 items, most of which are stored due to lack of display space.

The council will also be working alongside the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, GMET college in Worthing and Brighton University to create a costume research library and collection.

The project will unite two historic interiors of the building – the museum and the library – into a light, bright and spacious gallery that will showcase its collections and expand its education and research facilities.

The redevelopment will include a new café and greater retail space.

Much of the conservation work on items in the collection currently undertaken behind closed doors will be shown to the public as it actually happens.

Head of culture Amanda O’Reilly said; “We’ve called this plan Letting in the Light because that is just what this exciting plan does.

“It opens up so much more of the museum and gallery enabling us to put more of our collections on display and with new learning rooms become a hub for cultural study and activity.

“We are particularly excited by the proposal for a centre of excellence for costume trading on our fantastic collection, the breadth and depth of which is sadly not currently appreciated.

“We will be able to work with today’s designers, fashion students, makers, TV researchers, and costume historians to add real value to the museum and make it a nationally significant cultural destination. ”