Ipswich Borough Council has received initial National Lottery support of almost half a million pounds for Ipswich Museum to inspire a new generation of visitors, it was announced today.
The ambitious project aims to refurbish the Victorian building, stripping it back to how it would have been in 1881. New displays and activity programmes will take the Museum back to its roots, celebrating the Victorians’ innovation and imagination, while challenging their world-view and encouraging new conversations with today’s audiences.
Thanks to National Lottery players, development funding of £461,600 has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help the Council to prepare detailed plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant at a later date.
This £8 million project aims to carry out essential conservation work to the building in High Street, stripping the interior back to the 19th Century original, creating additional gallery space to display more of Ipswich’s collections, refurbishing existing galleries, creating a new educational space and providing a new café, shop area and toilets to enhance the visitor experience.
The Museum will work with Ipswich communities and visitors to reinterpret the collections, gather new stories and create fresh conversations so people gain a sense of pride in their town – to understand that not only does Ipswich have a rich history but that it is also forward thinking and interested in a dynamic future.
By creating fun and interesting ways to understand the collections and the history of Ipswich, visitors will see the Museum as a cultural space that is an enjoyable place to come to and relevant to their lives.
The main Grade II* listed Museum building was built by Ipswich Corporation as a purpose-made building to house the collection from the earlier private museum founded in 1847 and also the Schools of Art and Science. It was built as a museum expressly for the education of the working classes in natural history. Its founders were at the cutting edge of scientific debate and generations of benefactors filled the Museum with outstanding collections of natural history, archaeology, geology and ethnography for wonderment, learning and scientific advancement.
Councillor Carole Jones, Museums portfolio-holder, said: “We are delighted to receive this support thanks to National Lottery players. The opportunity to do something really special and imaginative with our fantastic collections in a building that was specifically designed to showcase them to the public is an exciting one and we are looking forward to working with our communities and the HLF to take this project to the next stage.”