Museum of Oxford awarded £1.63m National Lottery support

Published: Friday, 23rd March 2018

The Museum of Oxford has been awarded a grant of £1.63 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards the Museum of Oxford redevelopment.

The grant funding, which has been made possible through money raised by National Lottery players, was awarded this month, and will contribute towards the £3.2m project to transform the museum - titled Oxford’s Hidden Histories.

The redevelopment will see the Old Museum, which was partially closed in 2011, triple in size and increase the number of exhibits from 286 to around 750. It will tell the often-overlooked story of Oxford, its people and its communities through exhibits, objects and new oral histories.

The project aims to create an award-winning museum and heritage events space in the centre of Oxford.

A new museum entrance will be accessed from the foyer of Oxford’s Grade II* Listed Town Hall. The new space will feature two new galleries displaying state-of-the-art, interactive exhibits and a new space - called Museum Makers - where schoolchildren and communities will be able to handle exhibits. 

The project will also see the creation of a new shop and reception desk, forming a much improved welcome area for the Museum and improved facilities for the museum’s 100+ volunteers.

Alongside the £2.8m capital construction of the new museum and its exhibits, the project will deliver a 3 year programme of enhanced heritage activity; including outreach sessions, learning resources for schools, family workshops and reminiscence projects.

The application for HLF funding was first submitted in September 2015 in response to public demand for a larger space. The Museum sees more than 75,000 visitors a year, however many felt the museum space was too small in comparison to other museums across the city.

Over the past few months, the Museum of Oxford has hosted a range of fundraising events through the museum's development trust. So far, £94,000 of a £450,000 fundraising target has been raised. The team will be continuing to fundraise towards the redevelopment.

The development trust was granted charity status by the Charities Commission in July, which allows it to receive gift aid, and raise funds to support the improvement of facilities, collections, exhibitions, learning opportunities and advocate for the museum’s stories and its services.

The museum development has also been awarded a grant of £49,800 by Arts Council England through the Grants for the Arts funding stream.

Technical design and relocating some of the exhibits will start in summer 2018; with construction due to commence in summer 2019 and the new museum will open by summer 2020.

The project is to be ratified at City Executive Board meeting in April.

Councillor Dee Sinclair, Board Member for Culture and Communities, said: “We are delighted that we have been awarded this National Lottery grant. We are very grateful to the National Lottery Fund for awarding the Museum of Oxford this funding and supporting our project to redevelop the Museum.

A lot of work has gone into the Museum of Oxford redevelopment through fundraising and behind the scenes. Our officers have worked very hard on the project and it is wonderful to see this project take off.”

Michelle Roffe, Head of HLF South East, said: “This is really exciting news for the Museum of Oxford. As the city's only museum dedicated to its people and history, this project is vital to continuing to preserve and share the hidden histories of Oxford’s community. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, the museum is able to drive forwards its expansion plans to meet the demands of a growing audience.”

The Museum of Oxford's Development Trust is continuing to fundraise for the project, as the total cost of the project is £3.2m.

While the museum is closed, people will be able to meet staff and share their objects and stories for the new museum at community events across the city. For more information on how to get involved and a list of local events at the museum, please visit the Museum of Oxford website.