A PROJECT more than ten years in the making looks set to become a reality thanks to a £4m grant.
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the fund to go towards the Weald and Downland Museum’s Gateway Project which will create a new information-filled ‘gateway’ to the museum.
The new buildings, set around the millpond, will include ticketing, retail and catering facilities and two galleries.
“Our Gateway Project has been over ten years in the planning and we are thrilled to have received this award,” said museum director Richard Pailthorpe.
“Without the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund it would have been impossible for the museum to have progressed with its ambitious scheme for improving our visitors’ experience of our unique collection.”
The new galleries will provide information on the museum’s collections and the landscape from which its buildings originated.
An annexe will also be created for use as a classroom and venue for community events.
Paul Rigg, chairman of the museum’s trustees, said: “The funds are now in place for the museum to provide world-class visitor facilities to match its unique heritage collection.
“It is a marvellous opportunity to broaden the museum’s offer to the wider community and to improve the experience for our loyal supporters.”
Stuart McLeod, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South East, said: “Today’s £4m grant will bring the museum’s visitor offer into the 21st century, vastly improving access and facilities and transforming the way the buildings and collections are displayed and understood.”
Building work will start in 2015 and it is hoped the new buildings will be available for the museum’s visitors to enjoy at the beginning of the 2017 season.
The museum will be open for business as usual.
Two existing historic buildings – the Medieval Hall from Sole Street and the Wagon Shed from Pallingham Quay – will be moved and re-erected at new locations on the site.