The LYC Museum & Art Gallery (1971-1982), was the inspiration of Li Yuan-chia relying for its realization almost entirely on his own physical and imaginative resources. Located in rural Cumbria in the village of Banks, a short distance from both the Northumbrian and the Scottish borders, it soon became a significant cultural focus for a wide area despite transport links being sparse at the time. Hadrian’s Wall lies beneath the garden of the property.
Entries in his diaries suggest that even before visiting Bankside, the idea for the LYC Museum had formed in Li Yuan-chia’s mind. Whilst employed as handyman clearing the derelict property in readiness to be sold he decided to purchase it himself for £2,000 – at that time a large sum.
The LYC Museum & Art Gallery, as well as displaying works of international artists lent by private collectors, showed Roman artefacts from nearby archaeological site Vindolanda and traditional Cumbrian crafts. Opportunities were provided for 3 artists each month to show their work – more than 350 in total – and incorporated into the Museum’s programme community workshops, a Childrens’ Arts space, poetry readings, a sculpture garden and an LYC publishing press. The funding received by the Museum was minimal, as testified by one of Northern East Arts officers at the time who said that in terms of value for money Li’s contribution to cultural life was without equal.