Wool-i-Am to get own room at revamped Ipswich Museum
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
I hope everyone had a very Happy Christmas and were able to spend time with loved ones.
One early Christmas present we received was the announcement by the National Lottery Heritage Fund of a £4.3m grant for a major project to improve Ipswich Museum.
The museum is one of the best-loved buildings in Ipswich. It was purpose-built at the top of High Street by the Ipswich Corporation in 1881, having out-grown its first premises in what is now Arlingtons restaurant in Museum Street.
A Grade II* Listed building, it is of exceptional significance as a purpose-built, substantially preserved example of a late Victorian/Edwardian museum.
Although the museum has developed and changed over the last 140 years, this will be the largest single investment it has seen in all that time.
The new project will deliver an additional gallery and new educational space, a new café and improved shop area and toilets. Existing galleries will also be refurbished enabling more of the museum’s collections – normally held in storage – to be on public view.
The iconic Natural History gallery will be largely unchanged, with visitor favourite Rosie the Rhino still greeting visitors as they enter. Wool-i-am, the mammoth, will now get a new room to himself.
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A new conservation laboratory will allow visitors to see the fascinating work being carried out inside.
Moving around the museum will be much improved – especially for people with mobility problems – by raising internal floor levels to remove the need for ramps and steps in the ground-floor galleries.
A new lift near the main staircase at the front of the museum will improve access both up to the first floor and down to new – and much better – public toilets in the basement, a space currently used just for storage.
In keeping with our commitment to make the council carbon-neutral by 2030, new heating, insulation and lighting will significantly reduce the museum’s carbon footprint.
The project is not just about buildings, though. Museum staff and volunteers will work with Ipswich residents and visitors to reinterpret our collections, gather new stories and create fresh conversations.
Our hope is that, through the provision of a superb new museum and by spreading a greater understanding of our town’s rich history, we can foster a real sense of pride in our town.
There has been a huge amount of work put in to getting us this far and I would like to put on record my thanks to the dedicated museum’s staff, volunteers and the Friends of Ipswich Museums who have enabled us to get to this point.
Now the hard work of actually delivering the project will begin!
The new museum is scheduled to open in 2025.