County councillors met yesterday to rubber stamp plans for the modernisation of the Market Hall Museum in Warwick using cash raised by the National Lottery.
Warwickshire County Council recently secured £965,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to refurbish the museum and relaunch it as a cultural gateway.
Our Warwickshire, through a new design and refurbishment programme, will seek to re-energise and relaunch the Market Hall Museum as a cultural hub for Warwickshire’s heritageCouncil report
Under the ‘Our Warwickshire’ project, there will be changes to the layout of the 17th century building and new displays to improve the visitor experience.
The museum, the headquarters of Warwickshire’s museum service, has collections on the geology, natural history and early history of the county.
Highlights include the Sheldon Tapestry Map of Warwickshire and the second-largest early Roman coin hoard in the whole country. Temporary exhibitions are also held regularly throughout the year.
The briefing document put before councillors said: “Our Warwickshire, through a new design and refurbishment programme, will seek to re-energise and relaunch the Market Hall Museum as a cultural hub for Warwickshire’s heritage, exploring the county’s cultural identity by telling the stories of its people, places, landscapes and events.
“The project will work with new and existing community partners to develop Market Hall Museum’s role as a cultural gateway, signposting users and visitors to heritage opportunities and experiences elsewhere within Warwickshire.”
The redevelopment of the building could start as early as this month and is scheduled for completion by March 2017.
Part of the project, which is run by Heritage and Culture Warwickshire, includes a new website designed to allow people all over the county to upload and share digital content.
The county council’s report added: “By harnessing the potential of social media and community online platforms, we will also ensure that the virtual audience is able to participate alongside local people and visitors.
“This virtual strand of the project draws on our heritage collections, knowledge and expertise and, crucially, the heritage within Warwickshire’s communities.”
The county council believes revamping the Market Hall Museum and continued development of the website will support economic growth by promoting local tourism, helping to boost visitor numbers in Warwick town centre and at other attractions across Warwickshire.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, in her capacity as leader of the council, formally accepted the HLF grant in March. At the meeting of the cabinet at Shire Hall yesterday afternoon, it was recommended that the scheme be added to the authority’s capital programme in order for the building work to proceed.
The overall cost is estimated at £1,192,323, comprising the HLF grant, match funding of £173,573 from the county council’s Museum Development Trust Fund and additional partner contributions of £53,250.
The HLF is a body which distributes a share of the income from the National Lottery to schemes and projects aimed at preserving, and making more accessible, the nation’s heritage.