Poole Museum receives £2.4m development grant - Museums Association

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Poole Museum receives £2.4m development grant

Two-year project will add new galleries and visitor facilities
Philippa Kelly
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A visualisation of the Poole Museum redevelopment
A visualisation of the Poole Museum redevelopment Poole Museum Foundation

Poole Museum has been awarded a £2.24m grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of the Our Museum: Rediscovering Poole’s Maritime Heritage project.

The project, billed to transform the council-run museum into a cultural centre and community hub, will begin early this year and is expected to be completed by spring 2024.

Michael Spender, head of culture at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council said: “This grant will help us to significantly expand and update the public spaces and facilities in Poole Museum, and to properly show our internationally important maritime and pottery collections, providing a museum experience fit for the 2020s."

Project plans made possible by the grant include the addition of three new galleries, to be developed alongside the local community, which will showcase the museum’s maritime and pottery collections.

Alison Smith, project manager at Poole Museum said: “For us the most important thing was that this project was co-created.

“Over 3,000 people visited our Project Lab and responded to prompts and challenges about Poole, stories and objects. It really helped us learn about what interests and excites people and helps us shape our interpretation to be meaningful and relevant to a really wide audience.”

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In addition, the grant will support the conservation and restoration of the Grade I listed Wool Hall and the creation of new visitor facilities with improved access.

Smith said: "The most exciting thing is realising the ambition to provide access for all. This is through engaging new interpretation, removing barriers to participation, changing how we welcome our community and visitors and physical changes to the building."

Poole Museum will close at the end of 2022 to allow building and structural work to commence, after which the museum team will begin outreach events in the local community. These events will include an oral history project, which will collect personal stories from Poole’s residents, to feature in the new galleries once they open.

Stuart McLeod, director, London & South, at the Heritage Fund, said: “As well as enabling restoration work for the at-risk Grade I Listed Wool Hall, the project will connect communities to their heritage by adding personal perspectives to the collections and opening up the museum’s stories for even more people to enjoy.”

The £2.24m grant represents a substantial amount of the Our Museum: Rediscovering Poole’s Maritime Heritage project budget. Further financial support has already been secured from a number of charitable trusts and foundations and the museum’s fundraising efforts are ongoing.

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