World's best collection of tanks gets £2.5 million Vehicle Conservation Centre at Dorset Tank Museum

By Ben Miller | 19 September 2013

With more than 100 armoured fighting vehicles on show and an observation gallery allowing the public to gain unprecedented insights into the work of specialists, The Tank Museum’s new £2.5 million Vehicle Conservation Centre, a 40,000 square foot hall offering vital recuperative space to some of Bovington’s mighty residents, has opened in a £2.5 million development.

A photo of a massive tank next to a vehicle conservation centre
© The Tank Museum
Unveiled by broadcaster Dan Snow – a trustee of the museum – and some of the proud volunteers whose endeavours will come under supportive scrutiny,  the new headquarters will allow previously unseen tanks to be admired for the first time.

“Being able to stand on that mezzanine level and look down on the packed ranks of tanks is a thrill,” said Snow, who joined actor Chriss Barrie and the Lord Lieutenant of Dorset at the triumphant ceremony.

“Yet again the Tank Museum has produced an absolutely world class facility.

“The new vehicle space gives them a chance to display even more of the collection. The Tank Museum is fantastic, and the best thing is that it's still growing.”

“It means that The Tank Museum can, at last, get all of the designated collection under cover,” said David Willey, the museum curator, discussing a task he believes is “the most important single thing we can do” to preserve the tanks.

“The building also allows us to rotate vehicles into new displays in the main galleries and carry on collecting.

“Much of the conservation and restoration of these vehicles will be carried out in the future with the help from our increasing band of workshop volunteers.”

The Heritage Lottery Fund has provided major backing.

“It will transform the way visitors interact with The Tank Museum’s impressive collection,” predicted Nerys Watts, of the group.

“The Tank Museum holds one of, if not the finest collection of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles in the world.

“This is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved and learn about these complex machines and is bound to increase the number of visitors to this ever-popular museum.”

The completion of the centre has been timed to coincide with First World War centenary celebrations across the country in 2014.

Richard Smith, the Director of the museum, called the facility a “much-needed” result of “years of planning and hard work”.

“It enables us to add new exhibitions and ensure that our collection is stored in a dry and properly heated environment,” he added.

“This new centre also gives us the facilities for an on-going volunteer led conservation and preservation programme, further guaranteeing the long-term future of our collection.”

A major exhibition, Warhorse to Horsepower, will open in Easter 2014, followed by Making Tanks in 2015.

More pictures:

A photo of rows of people standing inside a tank museum while a ceremony goes on
© The Tank Museum
A photo of a uniformed band playing trumpets on a balcony above a tank museum
© The Tank Museum
A photo of a large warehouse-style museum full of tanks and armoured vehicles
© The Tank Museum
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