Everything you need to know about Weston Museum re-opening
PUBLISHED: 18:00 22 August 2017
Weston Museum re-opens on Saturday after a two-year closure and £1.6million refurbishment. We have the lowdown on everything you need to know…
Why has the museum been closed?
Ever since Weston Town Council took control of the museum six years ago, it has been planning a major refurbishment.
Funding was secured in 2015 and it closed in April that year so the contractors could move in.
What is different?
The accessibility is the biggest improvement. Previously, people in wheelchairs could not reach the top galleries as they were only accessed by a staircase. Now, they can use the lift. The bridges connect the whole upper floor of the museum to create a seamless experience as you move through the exhibitions.
The entrance is lighter and brighter thanks to the new self-cleaning glass roof.
Moving through the exhibitions is a very different experience too – with some objects on show for the first time in decades.
There will also be two changing galleries, in the form of a community room, and a temporary space which can host touring exhibitions.
But there are plenty of old favourites to enjoy too, including Clara’s Cottage and some objects from the museum before the revamp.
Who paid for it?
The Heritage Lottery fund, largely, which gave nearly £1.1million - £346,000 more than the town council asked for.
The rest of the money splits into £50,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund, £15,000 from the Fairfield Trust, £15,000 from an anonymous supporter and £30,000 from the Garfield Trust.
Arts Council England also gave £15,000 for a new art installation and £52,000 to appoint café, retail and audience consultants.
The Weston Society of Arts gave £3,330 when it folded, and Weston College is sponsoring the learning room.
Money also came through the buy a brick sponsorship scheme.
When will it re-open?
The museum’s doors will open to the public for the first time on August 26, with a Victorian fun day.
There will be acrobatics, games and circus skills from 10am-3pm.
The museum will then open daily.
How much does it cost to get in?
Absolutely nothing – it will be free entry from now on. Of course, you can help to look after the museum by providing donations, eating and drinking the Somerset produce in the café and buying some souvenirs in the gift shop.
People paying to use the museum to host events and use its learning room will also bring in extra cash.
Is this the end of the project?
Not at all. The museum revamp was split into two phases, and the town council is going to start work on the second stage as soon as the museum re-opens.
It hopes to create a Victorian street scene and do work to the outside and Clara’s Cottage.
It will need more money from the Heritage Lottery Fund first, and the buy a brick scheme will start again.
Because of how the project has been organised, if the second phase does go ahead then the museum will not close again.
Are you going to the re-opening? Share your pictures with us on our iwitness site.