Oxford City Council has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the redevelopment of the Museum of Oxford.
In September, the Museum of Oxford submitted a bid for funding to the HLF for an ambitious project called Oxford’s Hidden Histories. The project aims to open up and share the heritage of the city’s communities through stories that radiate out from the Town Hall, the historic building at its centre. Oxford’s Hidden Histories will make objects currently in store accessible; uncover archival records mapping the city’s development; and explore Oxford's intangible heritage through the memories of local people.
This will be achieved by redeveloping the Old Museum space which closed in 2011. It will transform the Museum of Oxford’s facilities. There will be new gallery spaces with flexible displays and new interpretation using digital media, a new state of the art learning space with learning resources for schools. There will also be a ‘Museum Makers’ area for researchers to work and open workshop spaces so that local community groups can get involved in creating exhibitions. There will also be a new shop and reception desk, accessible from the entrance of the Town Hall and improved facilities for the museum’s more than 100 volunteers.
The museum is housed in the centre of Oxford in the Town Hall a magnificent grade II* Listed Victorian building of architectural importance which will be carefully preserved during the works. More than 75,000 people visit the current museum every year, and it engages over 100 local people as volunteers.
Heritage Grant applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include, as in this case, an immediate award to fund a detailed development plan for the project. The Museum of Oxford has received an initial award of £142,000 for this purpose.
Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed. Oxford City Council has bid for £1.6 million in total.
A detailed development will be submitted to the HLF in 2017. This would enable building work to start in 2018 and the new museum to be opened to the public in 2020.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us such strong support. The City Council is aiming to make the museum a focal point for local residents and for visitors to the city. The project will transform the museum and develop it as a community hub for people to actively engage in exploring the past and helping them to inform their lives today and take pride in the fascinating story of their community."