The Cromwell Museum, in Huntingdon, has announced it is to undergo a major refurbishment this autumn, thanks to a number of generous grants.
The money amounts to more than £160,000 and will mean the museum will be closed for four months, from October, to create new displays to highlight its Oliver Cromwell collection.
The Cromwell Museum Trust has been able to gain £85,000 from the History Makers Programme, which funds museums to create new exhibitions that will inspire the public through the lives and achievements of extraordinary historical figures.
The programme is managed by the Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and funded by Biffa Award; a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund.
It has secured £71,000 from the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities; and also received a grant of £10,000 from the Huntingdon Freemen's Trust.
The Cromwell Museum holds the best collection of objects relating to the life and times of Oliver Cromwell on public display in the world. The collection comprises almost 700 items, including portraits, clothing, miniatures, arms and armour, historical documents written by or about Cromwell, and one of his death masks. The Museum is located in the former Huntingdon Grammar School building, which was where Oliver Cromwell went to school.
The internationally renowned museum design company JANVS/Vidar has been appointed to produce the designs and manage the construction of the project. A temporary exhibition of some of the highlights of the museum's collections will be held in Huntingdon Town Hall during the closure period, with the museum due to reopen by the beginning of March.
Camilla Nichol, chairman of the Cromwell Museum Trust said: "We're extremely grateful to Biffa Award, administered through the Association of Independent Museums; the Wolfson Foundation and the Huntingdon Freemen's Trust for their very generous support which will enable the museum's displays to be substantially refurbished for the first time in 30 years. We're encouraging anyone to contact us who would like to support this project by donations of any size; the more we can raise then the more we can do to bring Cromwell's story to life for as wide an audience as possible."
Stuart Orme, curator of the museum, added: "The museum's refurbishment will provide better conditions and displays to highlight our remarkable collections, with as many if not more on display as at present; but also creating a space that is more welcoming to visitors, highlights our beautiful and historic building, and provide more interactive displays that will engage a wider audience. We've just appointed our designer and will be revealing our plans more fully over the coming weeks - I can tell you that this is a really exciting development for us and for Huntingdon."