A NEW waterway gallery and a “mini museum” for children are planned for Banbury Museum by the end of next year.

The £550,000 project will include space for more temporary exhibitions and an overhaul of the museum’s front entrance.

Plans have been unveiled by the museum’s board of trustees, with the first phase of the project due to take place next year.

Members of the board gave a presentation on the plans to Cherwell District Council’s executive committee on Monday night.

Board chairman Bob Langton said: “It has been quite an interesting journey, it has been challenging but most enjoyable.

“We are now in a position to move into challenging new times, we have had research to look into how we can increase visitors to the museum.

“We would also like to thank the district council for giving us the faith to run the museum, and allowing us to make it sustainable in the long term.”

Suzette Neptune, who heads local events company Banbury Presents, said the museum’s plans were a major step in bringing in more tourists to the town.

She added: “Anything that increases the amount of cultural amenities and opportunities for national collections is really important for the town.

“Being able to use this cash injection will allow the museum to go even further and also develop its programme of local artists.”

The waterways gallery will be dedicated to the history of the Oxford Canal and the nearby Tooley’s Boatyard. It will also be rented out for multi-purpose use.

The mini museum will be aimed mainly at young people, and will include exhibitions aimed at children and an activities area.

Phase two of the project will include a new gallery being built at the back of the building – costing £3m – which will be expected to be completed by 2020.

It will be two or three storeys high and includes more public spaces.

The plans have been drawn up by the museum’s board of trustees, which also includes district councillor Tony Ilott, Oxford University head of communications and marketing Gail Anderson and freelance artist Alexandra Williams.

Museum director Simon Townsend said audience research had indicated that the museum needs “to make more impact in our region.”

He added: “The first stage of the plan is all about the existing building, and we hope to have all the work completed in 2017.

“We have now completed a review and have been able to create a development plan for the museum for the next few years.”