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Dorset museum

Model showing the existing buildings and new gallery spaces with archive and conservation facilities below (Credit: Carmody Groarke)

£11.3m Lottery grant for Dorset County Museum

A museum that works closely with the University of Exeter has been awarded a £11.3m Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The grant means Dorset County Museum can now carry out a major redevelopment as part of its vision for Tomorrow’s Museum – Making Dorset Proud.

The museum says it will use the grant to transform itself into a “state-of-the-art, fit for the 21st Century museum”, complete with a learning and research centre, improved visitor facilities and five new exhibition spaces.

Professor Angelique Richardson, Associate Professor of English at the University of Exeter, has been working with the museum for a number of years.

“This is tremendously exciting news,” she said.

“Dorset County Museum is one of the UK's finest and most dynamic museums and is home to the largest Thomas Hardy collection in the world.

“We are delighted to be working with them on a number of research and educational projects as they go from strength to strength.”

Only 1.5% of the museum’s vast collection is currently on display. 

The enhanced exhibition spaces will allow far more of the four million Hidden Dorset Gems to see the light of day.

Award-winning architects Carmody Groarke have designed the space to complement the existing building and its historical setting.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, our major investment in Dorset County Museum will enable it to tell more effectively the story of Dorset, spanning more than 200 million years of history.

“Treasures of national significance such as a rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and the largest Thomas Hardy collection in the world, will be able to be seen and understood by many more visitors, in a truly remarkable setting.”

Dr Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum, said: “We are overjoyed that the Heritage Lottery Fund have given us this opportunity. For the first time, we will have the space to do justice to our amazing collections, whilst ensuring they are safely preserved for future generations to enjoy.”

With this grant, the Tomorrow’s Museum campaign requires just £1.6m to reach its target of £15m.

The final push is now within reach and next month sees the launch of its public fund-raising campaign entitled Hidden Gems.

“In recognising the importance of preserving our common heritage for future generations, our ancestors gave generously, it’s now time for us, the people of Dorset and custodians of Tomorrow’s Museum, to make our own contribution” said Dr Jon Murden.

Date: 10 October 2017

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