Newstead Abbey has won £75,000 to improve access to its collection with a new exhibition space.
The grant has been awarded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Wolfson Foundation to Museums and Galleries across England to improve displays and facilities. It’s part of a £4m fund which will be used for renovation and improvement projects in 39 museums and galleries across England, allowing institutions to increase access, improve displays and enhance public spaces.
The funding for Newstead Abbey will be used for accessibility improvements, which include a public space that will house exhibitions on the history of Newstead and its occupants, with unique stories and collections on show.
The Newstead Abbey collection contains more than 4,600 items of furniture, books, costume, fine and decorative arts as well as archival and archaeological material. With the additional permanent exhibition space more collections can be made accessible.
Renovation and improvements to these public spaces will mean Newstead Abbey, for the first time, will have a fully accessible permanent exhibition space that all visitors can engage with. It will enable the site to have an offer for disabled visitors, who currently enjoy the park but have very little engagement with the rich and inspiring story of the site because the majority of it involves stairs. What is currently accessible offers just snippets of what is an important site with significant collections and stories. Having over 160 square metres of fully accessible permanent exhibition space will enable the visitor to engage with the whole story of Newstead.
Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “Over 100,000 people a year visit the grounds of Newstead, with 23,000 of them also visiting the house.
“We want to make sure that more people have the chance to experience the amazing history of the Abbey and although the nature of the building means the majority of the site is inaccessible to those with limited mobility, there is a very clear area of the building that has full mobility access. We want to turn this into an engaging, fully accessible, interactive exhibition to tell the story of the Newstead, its inhabitants and to make the collections accessible to a wider audience.”
The museum service will work with partners, community and disability groups and visitors to develop an exhibition space that is fully accessible and an interactive exhibition.
Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, said: “Our museums and galleries are among the best in the world and we should be rightly proud of these institutions.
“We want people to be able to enjoy world-leading culture wherever they live and whatever their background. These grants will make an important contribution toward increasing access to their wonderful collections and improving the visitor experience at museums right across the country. I applaud the Wolfson Foundation’s generosity in once again matching the Government’s investment pound for pound in this important work.”