Carmody Groarke’s plans to revamp and expand the grade II-listed Dorset County Museum have received a £10.3 million windfall from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
The Dorchester-based museum - founded in 1845 and home to the Thomas Hardy Archive - wants to double its visitor numbers to around 100,000 a year by 2020 as part of its new Collections Discovery Centre project.
The scheme includes the conservation of the museum’s original 1883 Crickmay Building, together with its ‘stunning’ Victorian Hall, the restoration of a sixteenth century rectory and the creation of a ‘state of the art’ learning centre.
The ‘contemporary redevelopment’ features a new archival facility, galleries and workshops and help provide better public access to the museum’s vast collection of around 3.5 million objects and one of the UK’s most important fossil assortments.
Carmody Groarke landed the commission following an invited contest last year (AJ 29.04.14).
Robin Potter, mayor of Dorchester said: ‘The project will not only allow the museum to provide a fitting home for the storage, interpretation and research into Dorset’s fascinating history; it will also become the essential cornerstone that the town’s tourism sector has been looking for to stimulate significantly increased interest in visiting Dorchester to explore the town’s rich cultural heritage, creating more jobs and a more diverse local economy.
‘The town council is keen now to do its part in helping Dorset County Museum raise the remaining, but not inconsiderable, £3million needed to make the scheme a reality.’
The award of initial stage one funding of £483,900 will allow a detailed two year development plan to take place ahead of final submission to the HLF in May 2017.
Work on site is expected to start later that year with the Collections Discovery Centre set to open in 2020.