It’s May and we’re officially open! We can’t believe it!
There’s still a while to go, our new Cafe ‘White’s’ is still under construction and we’re looking forward to announcing more about that next month.
On the 12th May however we launched the Stable Yard Entrance and new galleries to more than 700 celebrities, guests and supporters – and dancing group Lions of Zululand. Top environmental reporter, BBC Countryfile’s, Tom Heap cut the ribbon. Tom’s deep knowledge of nature and conservation and his fascination with exploration made him an ideal person to reopen a museum dedicated to furthering the exploration of the natural world. In his speech he said ‘We are celebrating three characters, very connected both to nature and the way we see the environment in the modern world.’
Our Chairman of Trustees Dr Rosemary Irwin in her speech highlighted the mission of the project ‘Our central purpose is to open up this museum so that it can be a doorway through which all can gain knowledge of, and involvement in, the natural world and its heritage, and help ensure it flourishes. Our unique collection of heritage assets should be a springboard, inspiring our visitors to make their own journeys into the natural world.’
The project was made possible thanks to a £1.8 million grant from Heritage Lottery Fund, and has been supported by numerous other private donors, including UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, Hampshire County Council, Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, the Sir Siegmund Warburg Charitable Trust, the Arts Council, the H.B. Allen Trust and numerous others, including private individuals. Helen Jackson from Heritage Lottery Fund said the Fund was proud to support the exciting vision put forward by the Museum, adding that ‘It had been one of the most imaginative and well thought out projects HLF had ever been presented with’. Visitors were also treated to seeing a new area for the garden team that was formally opened by patron Lady Catherine Stevenson.
Visitors were given conducted tours of the new Museum, and entertained in the gardens by the fabulous dancers Lions of Zululand. The Museum’s new Frank Oates gallery tells the story of his travels in Matabeleland, where he encountered Zulus and Ndebele tribes, and saw similar dancing displays at the court of Lobengula, the Ndebele King.
It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the improvements to the museum with visitors on this amazing day that was free for all to attend.