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14 March 2014, 07:12
A "landmark museum" aiming to be among the best in the UK has got underway way thanks to initial funding from Milton Keynes Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.
Created at the popular Milton Keynes Museum, the project involves a transformation of the existing site - with major new galleries tracing the area's story from pre-history right through to the present day. The project will also see high-quality museum collections storage and other public benefits, making the new museum a leading attraction for the region and beyond.
But Bill Griffiths, director of the current MK Museum which is leading the £7.5m project in partnership with MK Council, is promising the immersive and hands-on style local people have come to know and love will remain a key part of the new museum experience.
Now the partners are asking local people what they want to see, hear and experience from their new museum.
"This is an incredible opportunity and what has been missing from the city - a museum that tells the whole story of the area," said Bill. The people of Milton Keynes have given the current museum fantastic support all the way through and what we aim to create is a museum that they feel belongs to them, is somewhere they are proud of and will want to bring friends and visitors to, to show off their heritage."
Bill added: "Another thing we are excited about is that this will give us a chance to bring home some of the very important artefacts that belong here but which - without a modern museum on this scale - have had to be stored or dispersed to other museums in the UK. "I really believe this could be the best museum in the country. As people can see, we are setting our sights high!"
With a number of other key local organisations such as The Parks Trust and Marshall's already on board, Milton Keynes Museum and MK Council have some 12 months to fully engage with local people, appoint designers and architects and put together detailed plans that will release the next stage of funding - with the new museum set to open in 2017.
The new galleries will tell the story of the period from pre-history through to the 1800s, and the story of the new city's creation and development - including special exhibition areas for some of MK's most successful businesses and enterprises.
Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Realm, Councillor Peter Geary said: "Milton Keynes has a huge amount of heritage to celebrate. Time has moved on and it is important we don't lose the true story of how this city came to be and the people who helped make it what it is today. That's why we want to hear from the public, and from those organisations that are part of the city's success."
There are plenty of ways to help shape the new museum's future: at the end of this month there will be an exhibition in the Discover Milton Keynes Showcase within the Central Milton Keynes library where people of all ages can give their views. You can contribute via the Milton Keynes Museum page on Facebook, start a conversation with @mkmuseum on Twitter, or contact the partners using the details on the museum's website www.mkmuseum.org.uk.