A £21 million transformation of Plymouth’s central museum, creating an “interactive centre” inspired by the local exploits of heroic figures including Captain Scott, Francis Drake and Charles Darwin, could open in January 2018.
Plymouth City Council will ask the Heritage Lottery Fund for up to £13 million under plans to triple the size of the North Hill venue. Cabinet members are also considering committing £3.5 million from the city’s Investment Fund, which they believe will be recouped by the financial benefits the new museum will bring.
© Courtesy Plymouth City Council
“It’s time to think big,” said Tudor Evans, the Leader of the Council, who expects the development to “turn the museum on its head”.
“If we want to compete for national and international tourism we must have attractions that people want to visit.
“When we launched Plymouth as Britain’s Ocean City, we meant it. This is one of the major pieces of work that will ensure we live up to our new title.
“This new attraction will transform the way people discover the city's history and culture using the very latest in audio and visual technology. It will be exciting, interesting and will attract visitors in its own right.”
Early discussions with groups such as the local university, College of Art and creative organisations including the South West Film and Television Archives and The National Archives have shown “strong support” for the proposals, according to the council.
Residents are being encouraged to offer their thoughts on the expansion of a plan which originally comprised a history centre. Tactile displays and a “living archive” – allowing artists to interpret the historic collections – are among the initial outlines.
“We’ll tell the story of Scott, Darwin, the Mayflower, Drake, the Naval dockyard, the Beatles on the Hoe, the blitz, the Cattedown bones and of pirates,” namechecked Peter Smith, the Deputy Leader of the council.
“We want to create a unique visitor attraction that will blow people away by its innovation and imagination.
“We want people to discover their own history and journey using technology and we also want to trailblaze using the latest technology and collect the history of the future.”
Further details are expected to be announced later in the year.
“We will create a city attraction that will inspire people's curiosity to discover more about themselves, the city they live in and the global impact that Plymouth had on the modern world,” added Evans.
“When we pull this off, it will be the biggest thing ever to happen to Plymouth in terms of celebrating our history and heritage. It will be epic.”