Crawley Borough Council and Crawley Museum Society’s plan for a new museum for the town moved a step closer with the submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid on Friday (June 3).
Crawley Museum Society’s bid for £998,555 covers the fit out and alterations, including specialist display facilities and equipment, to The Tree and The Tree Annexe in the High Street to make it a suitable location for a museum.
An extra £763,000 has already been earmarked by the council to refurbish the listed building and bring it up to standard. Crawley Museum Society will operate the new service with financial support from the council.
The Tree has great potential to improve heritage in Crawley, with its central location, architectural quality and greater size. The building is well worth preserving, originating around 1280.
Greatly increased exhibition space will allow for detailed coverage of local themes, using interactive elements and lively displays, with input from the wider community. More room will allow for better storage and facilities for a workshop and meeting rooms.
The bid document details these specific outcomes:
• Develop and restore The Tree so that it is fit for purpose as the new location for the museum of Crawley, in a way that recognises and celebrates its heritage as a medieval building and its role in Victorian Society
• Relocate the Crawley Museum collection and service to The Tree
• Use the new location to illustrate Crawley’s past as well as its present and future
• Establish an outstanding education service for both formal and informal education both onsite and as outreach work
• Develop a programme of both temporary exhibitions and community-based projects establishing Crawley Museum as a heritage centre ‘of the people for the people’.
The bid document states: “As anyone can testify who has seen the team looking after a group of 30 schoolchildren plus their helpers in the galleries, Crawley Museum has almost reached saturation point in its use of the existing premises.
“There is an overwhelming desire to move to larger premises so that services and facilities can be expanded to meet the needs of the wider community, which underpins the rationale for the bid that follows, for the move to The Tree.”
If the bid is successful, it’s hoped that the museum could be open in 2013.
Councillor Lenny Walker, Cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, said: “We are determined to deliver a new museum for Crawley to celebrate our rich heritage.
“The museum’s current premises in Goffs Park House are far too small, with only about 10 per cent of artefacts on display at any one time.
“If we are fortunate enough to be successful in our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fun we will be able to provide Crawley Museum Society with a bigger, better base for a museum, nearer to the town centre – something they have asked us for.”