On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings, the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth has received support from the HLF for its ambitious development plans
During the week when the thoughts of many are turning towards the momentous events of June 6 1944 and the Normandy invasion, the museum commemorating the D-Day landings has received a green light for ambitious redevelopment plans.
© D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery
The D-Day Museum in Portsmouth has been given initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a £4.1 million redevelopment that promises to tell the D-Day story to modern museum visitors.
It can now work on fully developed proposals to compete for a final award from the Fund in two years’ time, with the focus on a transformation of its building and displays well ahead of D-Day 75 in 2019.
A development grant of £224,000 will now be used to progress plans for a raft of improvements including the opening up of internal spaces and the creation of dramatic new displays with a focus on the words of Normandy veterans to bring stories to life.
The plans also include a revamp of the visitor circulation plan to help tell the D-Day story more coherently and the creation of a dedicated activity space. The Museum also wants to develop its ongoing work with young people and schools to ensure that the museum remains relevant to future generations.
Impetus for the redevelopment plans has been hastened by a desire to involve the dwindling band of Normandy veterans in the re-shaping of the museum and its displays.
The museum will also create resources and partnerships to help individuals and communities nationally discover their wider D-Day heritage and share it through a major new website, conference programme, online resources and activities.
George Batts, the General Secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association, welcomed the news, reminding us that the landings, which on the first day alone involved more than 150,000 Allied service personnel, were only achieved “through the service and sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of men and women from the Allied nations, whether in Normandy or in supporting roles in the UK and elsewhere”.
“We Normandy veterans are very pleased to hear this news, particularly as it comes just before the 70th anniversary of D-Day," he added.
"It is important that the contribution made by Normandy veterans and the story of D-Day are remembered for many years beyond the anniversary, and the D-Day Museum's project will achieve this."
The announcement of the grant coincides with the establishment of the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust and registered charity, which now needs to raise an additional £160,000 to realise the project's plans.
Describing the D-Day landings as a “monumental" moment in European history, Carole Souter, the Chief Executive of the Fund, said the organisation's trustees felt the plans would herald a "refreshed" and "revamped" D-Day Museum.
Portsmouth City Council has pledged£350,000 towards the capital costs, with a further commitment to meet the additional running costs of £150,000 during the venue's first five years.
The Dulverton Trust, whose founder commissioned the Overlord embroidery - the modern-day national equivalent of the Bayeux Tapestry and a centrepiece of the museum - has also offered support.
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