£250,000 grant awarded to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum - Credit: Archant

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum has been granted £250,000 by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund. The award has just been announced by Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, as part of a £4m lift to fund renovation and improvement projects in England’s museums and galleries.

At the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum the grant will help to fund the Gateway Project, involving a new visitor entrance and orientation gallery which 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. In addition, 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: www.wealddown.co.ukFor details of all 40 recipients of the latest DCMS/Wolfson awards, please see: www.gov.uk/government/news/4-million-awarded-to-english-museums