The Science Museum at Wroughton, near Swindon, is one of six visionary projects to progress to the next stage of the Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks: The People’s Millions programme, writes Graham Nichols.
Above the Science Museum hangers as they look today. Below, what it might look like in the future
The six short listed projects aimed at transforming and regenerating their communities will compete for a single Lottery grant of between ?25 million and ?50 million, run in conjunction with ITV, with the winning project to be decided by a televised public vote in late 2007.
The Living Landmarks Programme Committee contacted the museum this week to offer a development grant of up to ?500,000 for the National Collections Centre project. This funding is to be used towards the cost of developing the project through to submission of a stage two application by May 2007.
The Science Museum plans to build a National Collections Centre on its 545-acre storage site at Wroughton. This will bring together a quarter of a million objects from the stored collections of national museums, from Hoovers to hovercrafts, radios to rockets and telescopes to trams.
The state of the art building will improve object conservation, allow previously unavailable public access, increase formal and informal learning, and generate leisure activities, while reducing running costs.
The National Collections Centre is designed to be sympathetic to the environment, indeed to enhance the landscape and biodiversity. The huge new building incorporates a chalk downland grass roof, making it barely visible from the surrounding higher ground.
Sally Pettipher, Head of Development at the Science Museum, Wroughton, said, “we are absolutely delighted. This is a mark of real confidence in what is a very exciting project which will bring together a truly great science collection and one of the most innovative science education centres in the country.”
“We are one of only a handful of projects in the country being considered for a ?48m grant. The project is of great importance within the Swindon area and if we are successful will inspire a generation of future scientists.”
“Only one project can win. And it will win by a public vote next autumn. We are asking now for all of Swindon and the South West to get behind this bid. We can only win with your help.”
Mike Bowden, Chairman of the NMSI Wroughton Corporate Campaign Team and Executive Director of RWE npower, said, “this is great news for the National Collections Centre project; it provides a seductive mix of education, environment and technology, as such RWE npower and the Swindon business community are proud to back this project”
The Science Museum at Wroughton is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry family of museums. Located to the south of Swindon, on a 545-acre former WW2 airfield, the museum stores around 18,000 of the large objects from the National Collections of the Science Museum.
The collections span the spectrum of scientific and technological interest for all ages, ranging from the giant Lockheed Constellation airliner to early computers, from bicycles to the massive Wood printing press and MRI scanners to hovercraft.
The collections are housed in seven giant aircraft hangars, and the site includes a brand new visitor building, including a spacious activity room and a cafe. NMSI Wroughton offers open days, holiday clubs, special shows, events and evening lectures throughout the year. It does not open on a daily basis but pre-booked visits are welcomed.
Big Lottery Fund
The Big Lottery Fund is the joint operating name of the New Opportunities Fund and the National Lottery Charities Board (which made grants under the name of the Community Fund). The Big Lottery Fund, launched on 1 June 2004, is distributing half of all National Lottery good cause funding across the UK.
The Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks Programme will award ?140 million across the UK to initiatives that has been designed to inspire communities to transform, revitalise and regenerate the places where they live, through social and community projects and major infrastructure investments.