Welcoming and with not a whiff of the stuffiness you find in some galleries and museums. That’s the nationally acclaimed Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking. Its exhibitions and displays are top-notch, yet it’s visitor and family friendly. And it’s fully and easily accessible to mobility-impaired people including wheelchair users.
Entry to the Lightbox is free (donations are encouraged). A charge is made for some temporary exhibitions.
Its web site declares: “Whether you’re passionate about the arts and history, want activities and fun, or would just like somewhere quiet to relax and think, you’ll find it all at The Lightbox, Woking’s new gallery and museum.”
The Lightbox opened in 2007 and provides changing exhibitions of art, sculpture and inventions, as well as a permanent exhibition on Woking’s history.
It holds regular exhibitions of works from the Ingram Collection. This outstanding private collection of Modern British Art is on loan to The Lightbox from Chris Ingram, a local media entrepreneur. The collection comprises over 350 pieces, showcasing some of the finest examples of works by British artists.
The Lightbox benefits from a team of 150 volunteers who perform a wide range of jobs such as greeting visitors, stewarding galleries, curating and cataloguing the collection, and assisting with workshops and special events.
This loyal team of volunteers received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2012 for their ongoing dedication and commitment to The Lightbox.
This is the highest award – the equivalent of an MBE – that can be given to volunteer groups across the UK for outstanding work in their local communities. It is only through the generosity of the volunteers who give their time freely that The Lightbox is able to provide free entry.
Woking’s Story is an interactive museum of the town’s history. It includes a variety of physical exhibits and also allows you to watch historic films and to listen to people’s memories of life in Woking. Some displays vary, so for example, during our visit in June 2012 there was a display of memorabilia relating to Paul Weller, front man of The Jam and The Style Council. It includes a guitar signed by the man himself. (The Jam’s members attended Sheerwater Secondary school in Woking and the band played its first gigs locally.)
The Lightbox has an excellent cafe serving coffees, teas and soft drinks, as well as a menu of delicious cakes, snacks and sandwiches.
The gift shop stocks a range of items including exhibition-themed jewellery and accessories, cards, books, postcards and ceramics.
The Lightbox has excellent toilet facilities including disabled toilets.
The building was designed to be one of the most accessible cultural venues in the South East. Visitors with disabilities will find it easy to use. A large lift is provided to transfer visitors between its three floors.
There is plenty of room between and around all exhibits to allow wheelchair users to pass through and to view the exhibits.
Situated in Victoria Way, the building has two entrances at which the doors open automatically as you approach. The main entrance is linked to Woking Town Centre by a light-controlled pedestrian crossing across Victoria Way (dual carriageway). The pedestrian route is signposted from Woking Town Square.
Visiting by car
The Lightbox has three “disabled” car parking places for Blue Badge holders at the Chobham Road entrance to the site, but no other public parking. A disabled space can be reserved in advance by contacting The Lightbox on 01483 737800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The nearest public car park is on the opposite side of Victoria Way.
Visiting by bus or train
Buses to Woking stop outside the north side of Woking railway station (platform 1 exit). It is a walk of 570m (620 yards) from here to The Lightbox. Cross the road under the canopy at the main exit from the station, go down Church Path and follow signs to the Town Square. Go along Gloucester Walk (pedestrianised): Barclays Bank is to your right). You will pass between the library and Civic Offices. Cross Victoria Way (dual carriageway) using the controlled pedestrian crossing. The Lightbox is to your right.
Details of exhibitions and events at The Lightbox are available on its web site: www.thelightbox.org.uk. More information is posted on The Lighthouse’s blog at www.thelightbox.org/blog.
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Updated 21 June 2012