While we are preparing for our reopening on 11 August, Director Marilyn Scott brings to you the last blog post in the series dedicated to The Lightbox building and its rich history.

Delve into the stories behind The Lightbox's architecture, its special features and community dance performances, before continuing.

The final part of the story does of course have to end with the opening of The Lightbox in September 2007 and all the celebrations surrounding that momentous week. The months leading up to the opening had not been easy. There had been numerous problems with contractors, supplies not arriving, delaying the completion and many last-minute jobs to be done.

One of our major problems was that the enormous glass doors at the front of the building were manufactured in Germany and had not arrived by the time The Ingram Collection was due to be delivered into the building. We needed the building to be secure, so for a number of weeks we had 24 hour security provided by a rather fierce security guard and his even more fierce German Shepherd who patrolled the building with only some very light weight wooden doors. We breathed a sigh of relief when the massive doors were shipped in and fitted.

There was a lot of frantic painting and cleaning and by the beginning of September everything was looking pristine. Opening a new building presented all kinds of challenges, one being that we had to ensure that our fire escape plans worked. To test this, we asked for hundreds of volunteers, mainly local residents to come and visit and then evacuate the building when the alarm went off. With great relief we cleared the building in under 4 minutes and everyone who came had a sneak preview of the inside of the building that was previously a well-kept secret.

Our opening weekend was well publicised, and we were keen to draw attention to the fact that soon Woking would have its very first museum and gallery. Our very well intentioned marketing team came up with the idea of putting gold boxes on all the roundabouts in the town ‘What’s In The Box’ was the encouragement to come into The Lightbox on opening weekend and find out. The gold boxes seemed to generate so much interest that many of them mysteriously disappeared overnight and our publicity stunt did not happen exactly as we had planned!

On our Saturday opening day, the then Mayor Councillor, Bryan Cross, arrived to declare the building open and cut the ceremonial ribbon. He was accompanied by giant gold men who had walked around the town all morning handing out leaflets encouraging people to come to the opening ceremony.

The day was full of excitement, fun and I think genuine surprise as visitors took their first steps through the door. We were overwhelmed by the number of people who queued outside the gates to come in and they continued to flow in well into the evening when we had our opening party.

Visitors were encouraged to come in and visit our very first exhibitions which included in the Upper Gallery the story of how the building was constructed. Woking’s Story delighted everyone with its oral history recordings and many interactives which of course in 2007 were judged to be quite high tech – how times have changed!

The star attraction was the Wallace and Gromit exhibition in the Main Gallery. Inspired by Pete Lord and Dave Sproxton the creators of Morph and such incredible animations as Chicken Run the exhibition truly had a Woking flavour as both animators had attended Woking Grammar School where Morph was born.

The exhibition was full of opportunities for people to participate and make their own films and find out how the films were made. We even had the tiny sets for the film Chicken Run.

The first comments were not surprisingly about the building – how large it was inside compared to how it looked outside, how light and airy it was, how it had an immediately friendly feel. I think it was true to say we had no negative comments, everyone developed a fondness for the building and a sense of pride in having such a great facility in the town.

This culminated less than a year later in us winning The Art Fund Prize, the award to Museum of the Year, being open for only six months when the judging took place. Truly a moment to be proud of everything that had been achieved. We had come a long way from exceedingly small beginnings!

For weekly updates from our Director, Marilyn Scott, browse our blog.