£2.2 million project to restore and extend Ely Museum gets green light from planners – but £120,000 is still needed to fund the work

PUBLISHED: 13:53 01 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:54 01 October 2018

This is what the education centre of Ely Museum could look like. PHOTO: HAT Projects.

This is what the education centre of Ely Museum could look like. PHOTO: HAT Projects.

Archant

A £2.2 million project to restore and extend Ely Museum has been giving the green light from planners – but £120,000 is still needed to make the development possible.

Inside Ely Museum before the 1997 extension work was carried out. Photo: HAT Projects.Inside Ely Museum before the 1997 extension work was carried out. Photo: HAT Projects.

The redevelopment will ‘increase the floor area available for displays, create a new multi-purpose space for education and community programmes, and restore historic features that are currently hidden from view’.

The new designs, by East Anglian architects HAT Projects, will mean historic features, such as the original medieval stair and prisoner graffiti, can be celebrated as part of the museum displays.

An additional storey will be added to the 1997 extension, clad in handmade local tiles and with a copper-clad bay window overlooking Lynn Road, acting as a beacon.

The plans will also make the Grade II listed building, which was formerly the Gaol of the Bishop of Ely, fully accessible for the first time by adding a lift and ensuring all the floors are level throughout.

This is how Ely Museum might tell the story of the building's history as the Bishop's GaolThis is how Ely Museum might tell the story of the building's history as the Bishop's Gaol

Elie Hughes, curator, said: “All the museum displays will be renewed, using outstanding exhibition design to bring the story of Ely and the Fens alive for young and old alike, and allowing unique items such as the Gold Torc to be showcased fittingly alongside other treasures from the museum’s collections.

“It will improve archive and storage facilities, and enable the museum to improve its income, ensuring its future sustainability.”

The development plans have won initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and a second stage funding bid to the HLF for £1.67m has been submitted and will be decided later this year.

“The museum, an independent charity with a small staff team and a team of volunteers, is fundraising for the remaining money needed to complete this project,” added Elie.

This is what the downstairs exhibition gallery of Ely Museum could look like.This is what the downstairs exhibition gallery of Ely Museum could look like.

“This is a wonderful project which will benefit the whole community as well as visitors to the area.

“Many generous local people and businesses have supported the project with donations, alongside several larger trusts and foundations. “Now we have less than £150,000 left to raise and we hope that people will continue to support us as we overcome this final hurdle.”

Hana Loftus, director of HAT Projects, said: “We are thrilled to have won planning permission for this very special project which will revitalise one of Ely’s unsung treasures.

“We look forward to making a museum that presents its buildings and its collections in the best possible setting, and a creating a new landmark building for the town.”

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