Ipswich Museum embarks on £8.7m redevelopment - Museums Association

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Ipswich Museum embarks on £8.7m redevelopment

Three-year project will add gallery space and see collections reinterpreted
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Eleanor Mills
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The Victorian taxidermy displays will be entirely reinterpreted and redisplayed by 2025
The Victorian taxidermy displays will be entirely reinterpreted and redisplayed by 2025

Ipswich Museum in Suffolk has received lottery funding to support a major redevelopment.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded the museum a grant of £4,324,800 for the £8.7m project, which will be backed up by £3.6m in funding from Ipswich Borough Council.

The Friends of Ipswich Museum will put £40,000 towards the project, and the remaining £450,000 will be raised through trusts and charitable foundations.

The revamp will add gallery and education space, a new cafe and improved shop and toilets, as well as reinterpreting Ipswich Museum’s rich collections, including its extensive world cultures collection.

The museum will work with Ipswich communities and visitors to reinterpret objects sensitively, as well as aiming to reinstall a sense of pride in the town and museum.

Purpose-built in 1881, Ipswich Museum holds exceptional geological and entomological collections as well as rare Victorian taxidermy dioramas. The redevelopment will safeguard these for the future with the installation of new heating, a lift to make the museum fully accessible, insulation and lighting, which will improve the museum’s environmental and sustainable performance.  

A projection of the new Wonders gallery when the museum reopens

The project is intended to finish by summer 2025 and marks a major milestone in the county town’s history. It builds on the success of the recent exhibitions in the Ipswich like the Power of Stories at Christchurch Mansion, which displayed three of Marvel Studio’s costumes for the Black Panther movie.

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Carole Jones, Ipswich Borough Council’s Museums portfolio-holder, said: “We are delighted to receive this support thanks to National Lottery players. This redevelopment will do something special and imaginative with our wonderful collections in a building that was specifically designed to showcase them to the public. We are looking forward to working with the people of Ipswich and the Heritage Fund to inspire a new generation through Ipswich Museum.”

Anne Jenkins, director, England, Midlands and East at the Heritage Fund, said: "We are delighted to support Ipswich Museum with its ambitious project to redevelop its museum and reinterpret its collections. With thanks to National Lottery layers, this project will enable the museum to bring its amazing collections to life in new ways and be much more engaging for local people and visitors alike. It will showcase Ipswich’s rich history in a way that everyone can enjoy and be proud of.”

James Steward, Ipswich museums manager at Colchester & Ipswich Museums Service, said: “This exciting redevelopment will respond to meaningful strategic, and community need by transforming the visitor experience. It is an opportunity to renew the relationship with our audiences, gather new stories and co-curate inspiring displays that will aim to be engaging and relevant to all. It has been a long-held ambition for the museum, and the project was essential if aspirations of local people for their museums and local heritage are to be fulfilled and to reflect both change and continuity in the town.”

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