The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum on the South Downs of Sussex has been given £250,000 by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) / Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund. The award has just been announced by Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, as part of a £4million lift to fund renovation and improvement projects in England’s museums and galleries.
The museum of buildings includes displays of stonemasonry with storyboards, exhibits of tools and live demonstrations by masons thanks to the backing of the Masons' Livery Company.
The DCMS / Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund grant will help to fund the Gateway Project, involving a new visitor entrance and orientation gallery that will introduce visitors to the museum and to the South Downs. One of the museum’s medieval houses will also be re-located to enable a new refectory and learning pavilion to be erected in the space.
“We are thrilled to receive this marvellous news,” says Museum Director Richard Pailthorpe. “The Gateway Project is vital to address the sustainability of the museum and safeguard its future by attracting new audiences and developing greater participation of the local community.
"It will help to establish a strong and mutually beneficial relationship with the South Downs National Park Authority, which will see the museum acting as a gateway to this part of the South Downs.”
“It is a great tribute to the importance of the museum collection that we have received this national grant,” says Museum Chairman Paul Rigg. “The funds will help to transform the visitor experience at all levels. Our aim is to provide better access to the range of training, education, specialist and leisure facilities that our unique and beautiful site and collection of buildings and artefacts provides”.
The museum is home to 50 rescued historic buildings and is designated by the Government for the outstanding importance of its collections. Exhibits include a medieval farmstead, a working watermill producing wholemeal stoneground flour, exhibitions focusing on traditional building techniques and agriculture, historic gardens, farm livestock and a working Tudor kitchen.
The Museum runs a well-established schools programme and an award-winning adult learning programme of courses in building conservation and rural crafts.
2014 promises to be an exciting year for the museum with a busy events schedule and new guided walks around the museum site to show key areas where scenes from the BBC TV’s Tudor Monastery Farm were filmed.
For more information about the museum’s events visit the website.
Until 28 February the Museum is open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday only (apart from the half term week, 17 – 21 Feb, when it is open daily). From 1 March it is open daily until 22 December.
Admission prices for 2014 are: adults £10.70, over 65s £9.70, children £5.90, family £30.40 (2+3), under four-year-olds free.
“The greatest variety of 15th and 16th century buildings in the country,” said BBC TV’s Tudor Monastery Farm about its choice of the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum as the principal location for the series.