WITH the award of £1,195,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museum has taken a major step towards implementing the development plans announced a year ago in Issue 4 of Sphæra. The award represents 75% of the necessary funding, the maximum proportion possible under the regulations governing the Fund. Most of the remainder of the cost of building the new special exhibition gallery, library, education room, store and additional office space will be met by the University, but the Museum is still seeking a final £121,500 of partnership funding.
As well as providing new spaces, existing galleries will also benefit from the developments. The move of the library to new accommodation is designed to release the whole of the historic chemical laboratory in the basement for use as an exhibition gallery. Its refurbishment will include the retention of the fine eighteenth-century bookcases, which will be used for ‘open storage’ in a manner not dissimilar to that often found in the period.
Since the original announcement of the plans, a supplementary application has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the refurbishment and redisplay of the two other main galleries of the Museum. This has also been approved, with the result that when the Museum reopens after the completion of building work, displays in all three galleries will have been updated.
Work has already begun on preliminary surveys, but until fundraising is complete, it will not be possible to determine the exact period when the building will have to be closed to the public. It is clear already, however, that the Museum is entering one of the most exciting periods in its history and one that will result in gallery displays, visitor services, and research facilities to match the outstanding quality of the collections and the status of the building.