Visitors’ first impressions of Bolton Library and Museum Service are set to be improved thanks to a grant from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The museum building in Le Mans Crescent will receive £200,000 to spend on sprucing up the entrance and foyer area, to complement its new Eternal Egypt gallery which is due to open in 2018.
The money has been allocated to successful bidders jointly by the DCMS and the Wolfson Foundation, a charity which supports the arts and humanities.
The project is named First Impressions and will focus on visitors’ first encounter with the 1939 Grade II listed building.
The grand entrance will be made brighter and more welcoming, with new, sleek permanent signage featuring highlights of the collection and the dark woodwork of the entrance doors revived.
Once inside, the foyer will undergo a facelift, with new flooring and décor. The dual staircases will see their original terrazzo steps polished and restored, and striking displays will adorn the walls to give visitors an insight into the collection.
A new, contemporary glass lift will also be installed which will be larger and more accessible to disabled visitors.
A major feature of the foyer will be an introduction to the museum’s first professional curators, William and Thomas Midgley.
The father and son duo began their connection with Bolton’s museum collections in 1883 and were significant in developing the museum into the visitor attraction we have today.
An interactive display of the Midgleys will welcome visitors and talk them through a brief history of the museum and introduce them to what lies in store.
Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Youth and Sport, Cllr John Byrne, said: “This funding will enable us to create a fantastic addition to our wider Eternal Egypt plans.
“While the Grade II listed building is majestic and impressive, and something we’re very proud of, our aim is to make it more accessible, welcoming and family-friendly to visitors. From the moment people approach the building they will be taken on a cultural and interactive journey through the museum’s history, culminating in the Eternal Egypt experience.
“Once the new Egyptology gallery has been launched we expect to attract more visitors than we do at present, so it’s important that their visit is the best it can be from the moment they arrive.”
Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, said: “Our museums and galleries are among the best in the world and we should be rightly proud of these institutions.
"We want people to be able to enjoy world-leading culture wherever they live and whatever their background. These grants will make an important contribution toward increasing access to their wonderful collections and improving the visitor experience at museums right across the country.
Paul Ramsbottom, CEO of the Wolfson Foundation, said: "This is a wonderful example of how a charity and government can work fruitfully together in partnership and we are grateful to government for matching our funding. The awards demonstrate the richness and variety of the country’s museum collections. From Egyptian mummies in Leicester to a Roman fort on Tyneside, this is a gloriously diverse set of projects - but all demonstrate excellence and all will improve the visitor experience.”
Bolton Museum is one of 39 applicants to benefit from a pot of £4 million courtesy of the DCMS and Wolfson Foundation. This is the 12th round of the joint fund which has committed £44 million and funded 382 projects throughout England since the Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund was created in 2001.