Major museum projects transform visitor experience 3 Nov 2009

The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the oldest public museum in Britain, reopens on 7 November following a major £61m redevelopment.  The project has been partly funded by a £15m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  The new building, designed by Rick Mather Architects, doubles the museum's display space with 39 new galleries, including four temporary exhibition galleries.  There is also a new education centre, state-of-the-art conservation studios and Oxford’s first rooftop restaurant.  A new display strategy for the collections, Crossing Cultures Crossing Time, will enable visitors to discover how civilisations developed as part of an interrelated world culture.  The reopening has attracted much positive press coverage, including a leader in the Guardian highlighting the growing popularity of museums.  more  

The Ulster Museum reopened to the public on 22 October after a three year £17m redevelopment project.  Although no extensions were added to the original footprint of the building, the new museum now has an extra square kilometre of exhibition space, including the new three-storey Window on Our World exhibition area.  The new interior has been split into three main zones around the themes of art, nature and history.  The project has been funded by £11.2m from Stormont’s Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, £4.7m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further £1.3m from trusts, foundations and private donations. The reopening coincided with the 80th anniversary of the opening of the museum in 1929, when it was known as the Belfast Municipal Museum and Art Gallery.  Since it opened, the museum’s Girona restaurant has become one of Belfast’s most popular eating places serving more than 8,500 meals in the first week. The museum will have new visitor hours, open all day on Saturday and Sunday but closed on Mondays, except bank holidays. Speaking in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Nelson McCausland MLA, Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure said he was sure the public will "appreciate that the project has been time and money well spent".  more

The Great North Museum: Hancock will be officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh when they visit Newcastle upon Tyne on 6 November.  The Great North Museum has already attracted more than 500,000 visitors since it opened its doors to the public in May.  Newcastle University led the £26m Great North Museum project, in partnership with Newcastle City Council, the Natural History Society of Northumbria, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.  more

Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) has reopened after a major expansion. The state of the-art-stores hold the Museum’s collections in pods - environmentally-controlled, energy efficient storage spaces.  The building also contains office space, conservation studios, laboratories, workshops and a publicly accessible reference library.  This phase of the development of GMRC has cost £12.8 million, with Glasgow City Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund providing the funding.  Alongside the reopening of GMRC, a new tool to help people find specific objects is also being launched. The Collections Navigator is an online tool which is designed to be a first step for people researching specific items in Glasgow’s collection.  more