Milton Keynes Museum has moved closer to realising its expansion dreams – with the formal handing over of keys to the new galleries to museum director Bill Griffiths.
And though the ancient and new Milton Keynes galleries won't open yet, members of the public will get a chance to preview them in 2018 when the museum uses them for hosting a series of temporary exhibitions.
Milton Keynes is an extraordinary new city, and one that has become home to a quarter of a million people from all over the UK and the world. From its flourishing green spaces to its massive economic success, Milton Keynes is a city where dreams are realised - but it is also a place with a rich, significant historical tapestry.
In the same year that Milton Keynes celebrated 50 years since designation, the museum has been working towards realising one of the visions in the city's original masterplan - to have a museum to collect, maintain and share the area's internationally significant heritage.
Plans for the ambitious £7.2m expansion were originally announced in early 2015, with the aim of telling the whole story of our local heritage, from pre-history right up to the present.
The ancient gallery will bring back the area's rich archaeology – from pre-history to the 1800s; from the discovery of the UK’s largest Bronze Age roundhouse to the first marriage of King to commoner.
The modern gallery will celebrate our successes, lament our failures, and recognise the part we’ve all played in transforming a corner of Buckinghamshire countryside into the biggest and boldest experiment in building a new community. And one where a 'can do' attitude leads the way.
With the gallery buildings now complete, fundraising is continuing to enable the museum to fill the spectacular spaces with the elements and items that bring our past to life.
The museum is aiming to open its ancient gallery first, in spring 2019. In the meantime, among the exhibitions local people can look forward to seeing in the exciting new buildings – the Staffordshire Hoard - the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, is already confirmed for the summer of 2018.
People can help the museum realise its remaining £1.5 million target by donating on the museum's JustGiving page www.localgiving.org/charity/milton-keynes-museum/ or in person at the museum.
Said Bill: “We’re so proud of what we’ve already achieved with the help of our lead partners at Milton Keynes Council who helped fund and plan the expansion, to our builders, Willmott Dixon, who went over and above at every stage, and to our amazing architect John Leonard at Nicholas Hare. “Also to the organisations who’ve already helped fund the expansion – Garfield Weston, the Englefield and Radcliffe Trust – many individuals who’ve contributed, plus all our volunteers who continue to make the museum what it is.”
“The new galleries will be something of which Milton Keynes can be truly proud – a permanent record and tribute to all who have and will come here.”