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Archive for April 2nd, 2012

A major West museum which last week feared it would have to close in a funding crisis has been saved and will be better than ever thanks to a whopping £370,000 lottery bonanza.

The Wiltshire Heritage Museum has been awarded the cash by the Heritage Lottery Fund at the end of a month which started with local council chiefs refusing its pleas for more cash.

The lottery money will not only save the museum’s immediate future, but create a new gallery focusing on its prize collections of Bronze Age artefacts.

The Devizes-based museum has long been recognised as housing one of Britain’s most important prehistoric collections outside of London, but after Wiltshire Council refused to increase its annual grant, raised the level of council tax the museum had to pay and reinforced a costly pensions deal, the museum said redundancies would follow and the museum could end up being mothballed. But now the future is bright for the museum after the successful lottery bid, which has been made as part of the beneficial ripple effect of the £25million plan to revive the visitor experience at Stonehenge.

Museum chairman Negley Harte said “We are delighted as this project is vital for the future sustainability of the museum. “The grants from the HLF and English Heritage will enable us to develop this new gallery to tell the stories of this unique collection in a more engaging way. It will bring more visitors to the museum, help us with our battle to make the museum financially sustainable and bring economic development to Devizes,” he added. The new gallery will tell the story of the people who built and used the world renowned monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury. The new Prehistoric Galleries will provide an opportunity to display for the first time in generations the unique gold and amber finds from Wiltshire that date back to the Bronze Age, over 4,000 years ago. “This was a time of shaman and priests, learning and culture and contacts across Europe.

The museum will be able to build on its existing learning and outreach programme, and inspire local people and visitors to become engaged and informed about the prehistoric landscapes of Wiltshire,” added a museum spokesman. Regional Heritage Lottery Fund boss Richard Bellamy said the links between the museum at Devizes and Wiltshire’s famous Neolithic sites were key. “These Neolithic and Bronze Age collections provide a fascinating insight into our prehistoric past, and they have the potential to play a key role in telling the wider story of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site,” he said.

Source: http://www.thisisbath.co.uk

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