A Transformation Project was launched at Wollaton Hall yesterday (Tuesday 29 January) which will see the iconic Nottingham landmark undergo a major refurbishment of its museum and gardens.
This ambitious project will see complete gallery redevelopment of the Wollaton Hall Natural History Museum, the restoration of the walled garden and the formal gardens – a significant step forward for this iconic Nottingham landmark and important East Midlands leisure and tourist destination.
Funds and grants are currently being sought and secured for this extensive project, with £1.3 million needed specifically to complete the gallery development for the museum redesign. £95,000 has already been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund with an award from Arts Council England (ACE) to be confirmed and more funders to be announced soon. The project also has the full support of the Natural History Museum in London.
Arts Council England (ACE) awarded Nottingham City Museums & Galleries National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status in 2018, securing £1.8 million for the service from 2018 to 2022. To date, those funds have supported Wollaton Hall development phase, enabling the master plan design document to be completed.
Detailed plans revealed at the event showed the full extent of the proposed works that will start with the transformation of The Great Hall and two adjacent galleries. This first stage is expected to be completed by April 2020 and will set the scene for a new experience of smart, interactive exhibits and visually engaging displays.
Cllr Dave Trimble, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Localities, said: “It’s so important that we safeguard the unique heritage of Wollaton Hall while at the same time realise the full potential of this stunning mansion and park. This project promises to deliver a transformation of the museum and gardens that will be appreciated by generations to come.”
Cllr Steve Battlemuch explained how plans for the huge walled garden would involve partners and volunteers to create a space that would inspire all its visitors including school children and groups. Innovative ideas for the space also include growing foods and the construction of glasshouse structures with the aim of promoting sustainable practices.
Plans were outlined for the formal gardens and how new landscaping aims to restore them to their former glory.
Museums Development Manager Rachael Evans added: “Our aim is to create a resource that will be the most significant Natural History museum outside London – a fully accessible world class offer.
“Gallery space will grow from 320 to over 700 square feet and this will increase the number of objects exhibited from 1,500 to 15,000 allowing far more access to our collection. Within each of the galleries there will be a designated area for education, increasing capacity for schools five-fold. We will develop galleries that are fully accessible, interactive, engaging and challenging and keep our partners close to make sure we get it absolutely right.”
Wollaton Hall has been home to the city’s Natural History Museum since 1926 and holds a collection of 750,000 objects, ranging from fossils, minerals, plants and eggs to invertebrates, vertebrates, shells (molluscs) and taxidermy, as well as ‘spirit’ preserved animals and rare specimens from across the globe.
The Dinosaurs of China visiting exhibition in 2017, a phenomenally exciting and successful event for Nottingham and a world exclusive, saw 130,000 visitors flock to Wollaton Hall over just a 16-week period, boosting tourism figures by more than £24 million in 2017- an indication of what could be achieved and sustained with investment in the museum.
Notes to Editors
Built in 1588, Grade I listed Wollaton Hall nestles in 500 acres of parkland boasting diverse habitats including grassland, wetland and woodland. Herds of red and fallow deer roam free with the lake creating a dramatic contrast to the Hall that overlooks it.
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