DETAILS have been released of Salisbury Museum’s major £4.4million redevelopment project.
Titled “Past Forward: Salisbury Museum for Future Generations”, the project will see the Grade I listed building “restored, renewed and repurposed”, and will focus on the future sustainability of the museum.
A new gallery will also address major events such as the Salisbury Poisonings in 2018, the coronavirus pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Work is due to begin in the autumn of 2022 and a “transformed museum” will be opened at the beginning of 2024.
Adrian Green, Director of Salisbury Museum, said that the Salisbury poisonings in 2018 and COVID-19 have highlighted the need to create a refreshed business model.
He said: “We want to work more closely with the local community rather than rely on the tourist market so heavily impacted by recent events.
“Past Forward will create new galleries dedicated to Salisbury history, ceramics and natural history, designed in close consultation with local people.
“A new visitor-centred programme of learning and engagement will further embed the museum in its community.
“This will be enhanced by new flexible spaces for activities and events.”
The Salisbury Gallery will chronicle Salisbury and south Wiltshire’s development from 1220 right up to the present day, picking up from where the Wessex Gallery of Archaeology left off.
As visitors move through the three rooms, they will encounter the key events, people and places that have made Salisbury and the surrounding area’s development unique.
It will focus on “what is special about Salisbury and its locality”.
Visitors will be introduced to stories about how both the military presence on Salisbury Plain, and the disruption of the world wars, impacted the local area.
By addressing contemporary stories – such as the 2018 Novichok poisoning – the gallery hopes it will be relatable to modern audiences.
The redeveloped Salisbury Gallery will look to encourage visitors to actively engage in the story of Salisbury and the surrounding area, past and present.
Adrian added: “Breathing new life into the museum and bringing it up to date for a new generation of visitors has never been more important – it will both draw new visitors to Salisbury and provide a new resource for the community.”
The museum is also going to show how the Salisbury poisonings and the coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of the city’s community.
The plans added: “These events, though recent, have become an important part of Salisbury’s story and it is important that the museum takes the opportunity to capture people’s experiences of them.
“At the same time, the museum is an ideal space to help visitors make sense of these challenging and upsetting events.”
The gallery will also address the Black Lives Matter movement, “to ensure that the museum is following de-colonisation best practice by identifying the provenance of key artefacts and highlighting Salisbury’s links to the slave trade.”
For example, the story of the building of Fonthill Abbey by William Beckford (who owned Jamaican sugar plantations worked by slaves) will provide an opportunity to tackle these issues.
How much will it cost?
The project will cost £4.4 million.
In June 2019, The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) awarded initial support and development funding of £429,400, which enabled the museum to develop the project plans in more detail and apply for a full grant of £3.2 million.
The museum then had two years to raise £1.2 million in match funding from private individuals, trusts and foundations.
Adrian said: “Despite the current crisis there has been some incredible generosity – not least from the Devenish Bradshaw family and the Garfield Weston Foundation.”
A second round grant will hopefully provide a further £3.2million, the application for which will be submitted this summer.
The museum was also able to appoint all the new staff required for the scheme prior to the first lockdown in March 2020 and funding from the NLHF meant Past Forward was protected from the financial constraints that impacted on other areas of work.
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