The Atkinson: Big Open Weekend – Be Part of it

Claire Warrior
Len Grant’s image of Claire Warrior – part of his exhibition of Sefton Love Stories

Join in and be part of The Atkinson’s Big Open Weekend this November to celebrate the launch of successful completion of the first stage of its ambitious redevelopment and to look ahead to the final stage, when we open the new museum telling the story of Sefton.

The Open Weekend takes place from 28 – 1 December with activities and events for all the family to take part in, as well as the opening of The Atkinson’s exciting new shop – with gifts and contemporary craft -just in time for Christmas!

The Open Weekend of celebration begins with the official opening ceremony of the venue which is owned and operated by Sefton Council. On the evening of Thursday 28 November there will be stunning performances from Sefton Youth Music, the Liverpool Philharmonic Quartet and Merseyside singer/songwriter Anna Corocan and her trio, Mike Smith (Saxophone) and guitarist Tom Stichbury.

In honour of William Atkinson the 19th Century benefactor who offered £6000 to Southport Corporation to build the original art gallery and library, we are inviting everyone in Sefton with the surname of Atkinson to come along to the official launch party. All you have to do is email with your name, address and phone number and we will be in touch.

The leader of Sefton Council, Peter Dowd, said:

 “The Atkinson is key to enhancing Southport as a cultural destination. The venue is at the heart of our tourism offer, attracting more visitors into the town and helping to boost the local economy.

Residents too will see the immediate impact of the venue with The Atkinson’s wonderful choice of performing arts, visual and health and wellbeing programmes and activities, as well as being a new  meeting place in the centre of the town .


The big Open Weekend is a chance to explore The Atkinson’s state of-the-art performance spaces and showcases a dazzling range of local and creative talent. Groups like Bothy Folk Club, Southport Swords, Southport Strings and Sefton Music Service will all be bringing the building to life and showcasing what is great about arts and culture in Sefton.

Visitors can get a taste of the outstanding museum collections with object handling sessions, behind the scenes tours of The Atkinson and exhibition talks planned throughout the two days. For we will be running rhymetime and storytime sessions, a family history helpdesk , as well as the popular drop in painting and family friendly arts and craft activities for all ages.

The Bakery will be open to serve up delicious treats including the new children’s lunches, afternoon cream teas and artisan sandwiches alongside the naughty but nice selection of cakes.

Since May we have had 248,255 visitors to The Atkinson, and have programmed 177 shows with 20,000 tickets sold and 5,000 people seeing the events  that include some of the best-known performers and companies in the UK, from comedian Rich Hall, Folk royalty Seth Lakeman to the hit sell-out, Faulty Towers- The Dining Experience.

Etty: Chaplet of Flowers - part of current Love Stories exhibition
Etty: Chaplet of Flowers – part of current Love Stories exhibition

The opening of The Atkinson’s state of-the-art new exhibition spaces in September with the stunning Love Stories: Romance Obsession and Heartbreak exhibition, has since seen over 12,000 people visit the venue in the first 8 weeks.

Award-winning photo-blogger Len Grant has work featured in the exhibition, as part of the Love in Sefton commission. He captured the real life stories of six couples who fell and found love in Sefton. The photographs and stories take pride of place in the galleries.

Leading The Atkinson team is Emma Anderson, The Atkinson’s first Director, who comes to the venue with over 22 years strategic creative experience, she said:

“We are thrilled to be officially opening our doors to The Atkinson and want to thank all the partners that we have worked with to make this moment possible. We have great programming with a diverse range of performances and arts as well as activities for families. 

You can really while away a day here, exploring all that we have to offer. After managing to secure a Heritage Lottery Grant, we can now improve that offer further with a new museum, bringing together Sefton’s historic artifacts and the Goodison Egyptology Collection for the first time in 40 years”.

Space is being offered to Sefton art groups and organisations to promote their activities to the visitors during the Open Weekend. If you would like your group to be involved please contact with the day/s you would like to be present.

The Atkinson supports local film-making by screening Southport screenwriter and producer Francis Harriman’s short-film Go with God as part of the Open Weekend programme . Thefree screening will take place at 18.30 on Friday 29 November in association with Southport Film Guild. Information on this and booking tickets can be found on The Atkinson website.

If you are an Atkinson and would like to attend the launch event, then please

To find out more visit