(c) David Norton

Brunel museum project wins £4.78m HLF grant

Eleanor Mills, 29.07.2015
Bristol’s ss Great Britain Trust will expand with two new buildings opening in 2017
A project to create a museum in Bristol dedicated to the 19th-century engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel has secured a £4.78m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The £7.1m museum, which is now 90% funded, will sit alongside the ss Great Britain visitor attraction and is scheduled to open in 2017.

The ss Great Britain, which Brunel designed, returned to Bristol in 1970 and opened to the public in 2005 following an extensive restoration. The site also includes the Brunel Institute, which houses a maritime collection and is a collaboration between the ss Great Britain Trust and the University of Bristol.

“The charitable goals of the trust are to preserve and interpret the ss Great Britain for the public, and to engage visitors with our extensive collection,” said Eleni Papavasileiou, the head of curatorial and library services for ss Great Britain and the Brunel Institute. “The HLF’s grant will enable us to open up our collection and make it even more accessible.”

The trust will use the grant to develop the Being Brunel museum and restore the adjacent building, which was Brunel’s drawing office.

“The old drawing office focuses on putting people into an authentic environment – like that which Brunel and his team worked in – in its  original 1840s structure on the Bristolian waterfront,” Papavasileiou said.

The ss Great Britain Trust has released a video showing what the new museum will look like.

Being Brunel will tell the story of the English mechanical and civil engineer through the technological advancements he masterminded.

The trust cares for more than 14,000 objects, and among those on display in the new museum will be Brunel’s cigar case and his pocket notebook full of lists, sketches and calculations.

”The new centre will provide an opportunity to glimpse into Brunel’s mind and the way he worked,” Papavasileiou said.

The ss Great Britain Trust also wants to forge closer links with other Brunel collections, such as the Thames Tunnel in London.