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The lighthouse and the sea at Orford Ness

£11.5m grant for National Army Museum expansion 

30/04/2014 

The National Army Museum (NAM) is today announcing a confirmed grant of £11,500,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  

The grant will help fund the museum’s ambitious Building for the Future project - a radical transformation of its offer, set to deliver new opportunities for accessing the Museum and its Collection.

After receiving initial HLF support for the project in 2012, NAM, based in Chelsea, London, has been working to detail its far-reaching plans in order to secure the required funding. The £11.5m HLF grant will now make up half of the total project cost of £23.25m, the remainder of which has been raised through the fundraising efforts of the museum and its supporters.

Janice Murray, the Director General of the National Army Museum, said, “We are delighted to have secured this major grant, and cannot wait to get started on this hugely exciting project. Thanks to the help of the HLF, we will be able to enhance the museum’s unique offering for our ever-growing audiences, ensuring we showcase and make available our outstanding collection all over the country.”

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “This is a very exciting time for the National Army Museum: the long-awaited moment when it embarks on a radical overhaul of its exhibition and educational spaces. It will transform how it tells the history of the army over the last 600 years to the present.

“We’re delighted to be confirming our investment of £11.5m in the Building for the Future project and look forward to supporting the redevelopment of this popular museum.”

Focusing on four key areas, Building for the Future will enhance the Museum’s onsite, offsite and online elements. Planned outreach activities will be linked to important upcoming anniversaries including the First World War in 2014 and the Battle of Waterloo in 2015. Building for the Future will:

Revolutionise the visitor experience
. A major restructure of the building and overhaul of museum displays will create a more welcoming and engaging experience, with a predicted 30% rise in visitors by 2016.

Improve conservation of and access to the Collection.
Consisting of over a million items, the collection will be housed in new, environmentally controlled stores. We will also be undertaking a significant programme of digitisation, which will enable easier and greater access to NAM’s unique items online.

Establish an ongoing programme of learning and outreach
. Deliver an extensive programme of outreach across the country, opening up the collection to over half a million people during 2014-16. Community workshops, art projects and outreach exhibitions will take the Collection to the doorsteps of local communities. These will be made possible through a range of partnerships including the pre-existing national network of 136 regimental military museums.

Embed new working models of service delivery and public engagement
. The project will enable NAM to redesign the way it works to become more audience focused and commercially sustainable.
Building for the Future will mark the most ambitious piece of restructuring work to the Chelsea site in over thirty years, providing NAM with the opportunity to upgrade the existing site to meet the needs of its growing audiences and its national collection.

Janice Murray continued: “Through our planned outreach activities important milestones such as the centenary of the First World War and the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo will be marked, laying the foundations for an ongoing programme of engagement after the building work is completed. Securing the grant is a landmark moment in the Museum’s own history, and will see us create a revolutionised NAM over the next two years.”

Notes to editors

Visit the National Army Museum for more on the Building for the Future project.

About the National Army Museum: The National Army Museum explores the impact of the British Army on the story of Britain, Europe and the world; how Britain’s past has helped to shape our present and our future and how the actions of a few can affect the futures of many. The National Army Museum was established by Royal Charter to tell the story of the Land Forces of the Crown wherever they were raised. Opened by the Queen in 1960, it moved to its current site in Chelsea in 1970.

Further information

For further information, images and interviews, please contact: Laura Gordon, National Army Museum press office, on email: lgordon@nam.ac.uk or 020 7881 2433.
Children examine an exhibit at the National Army Museum 
Children discover more about Britain's military history at the National Army Museum. Copyright: National Army Museum