Almost half of the £1.3 million required for the first phase of restoration at Wollaton Hall has been secured, just a week after the plans were launched.
The funding, which will be used to transform the hall’s display galleries, will be sourced from a mixture of public and private trusts and foundations.
Rachael Evans, museums development manager, said: “We’re very confident of securing the rest of the funding, but to get over a third already is really promising.”
A large portion of the funding will come from a £1.8 million Arts Council England grant given to Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, to deliver a business plan which also includes restoration work at Newstead Abbey.
It is hoped the work will transform Wollaton Hall into the most significant natural history museum outside London.
“Visitors just weren’t engaging.”
Rachael Evans Museums Development Manager
The restoration work has the full support and backing of the Natural history Museum in London.
It is particularly interested in the collection of taxidermy fish, which will make the hall the best source of fish knowledge in the country.
The updates will see the hall’s galleries and exhibitions become more interactive, appealing to all ages, genders and interests.
New exhibits and attractions will focus on the challenges facing the planet: “We have a different story to tell now, we have to show we are not afraid of challenges and we are open to cause and debate” Rachael added.
Although the hall and gardens attract 297,000 visitors each year, a study revealed visitors were only staying for an average of 28 minutes, citing confusion over whether the Hall was a mansion or museum as a key reason visitors were not engaging.
The Dinosaurs of China exhibition in 2017 saw a spike in visitor numbers, a three-fold increase in the amount of time they spent at the hall and an injection of approximately £24 million to the local economy.
The increase in footfall and boost to the economy was the biggest rise in tourism nationally.
It was this success that served as the catalyst for the renovation work and to bring the hall’s exhibitions up to date.
It is part of the site’s long term aspirations to increase their number of staff, in both paid and voluntary roles.
Work to the hall and gardens should be complete and fully open to the public by March 2020.