We are delighted to announce that The National Tramway Museum has been granted funding towards the renovation and improvement of the display of tramcar exhibits in permanent galleries and exhibition spaces.
The Museum’s collections are one of the most comprehensive collections of tramcars and tramway history in the world and all the Museum’s collections are Designated as being of National importance. At the core of the collection is the Tramcar and associated works vehicle collection which comprises over 70 historic vehicles.
There have been growing concerns for the ability of the main exhibition areas, which date back to the 1960’s, to protect the Nationally Designated collection long term and present it appropriately to the Museum’s visitors. Condensation and mould are two of the challenges that face us with the current buildings, and pose a threat to the long term care of the collection.
A proposal for funding had been put forward for a new, fully insulated roof, insulated doors, partition walling and extra wall insulation. In addition, new interpretation panels and greatly improved lighting are required to enhance the visitor experience.
The estimated total fund for the project is £400,000, but thanks to the DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund 2016-18, the project has taken a significant step forward as the National Tramway Museum has been offered funding of £100,000 towards the project for 2017 -18.
Despite some of our best efforts with cleaning our tramcars, they still suffer from mould growth due to the conditions in the building. With a new insulated roof, walls and doors, the conditions will be greatly stabilised in the building, preventing such damage in the future.
Some of the painstaking renovation of tramcar seats which is required every year.
The building can be quite gloomy, especially at the back as in this photo, so the renovation work includes a new lighting scheme to provide more light allowing our visitors move around the building and read interpretation panels comfortably.
A major part of the renovation project will be the replacement of the old roof, which can be seen above these tramcars. It will be replaced with a new fully insulated roof which will improve the atmospheric conditions in the building.
A rare glimpse of an almost empty exhibit space shows some of the smaller artefacts, that will be re-displayed as part of the renovation work to the building.
Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, said:
“Our museums and galleries are among the best in the world and we should be rightly proud of these institutions.
“We want people to be able to enjoy world-leading culture wherever they live and whatever their background. These grants will make an important contribution toward increasing access to their wonderful collections and improving the visitor experience at museums right across the country.
“I applaud the Wolfson Foundation’s generosity in once again matching the Government’s investment pound for pound in this important work.”
Paul Ramsbottom, CEO of the Wolfson Foundation, said:
“This is a wonderful example of how a charity and government can work fruitfully together in partnership and we are grateful to government for matching our funding. The awards demonstrate the richness and variety of the country’s museum collections. From Egyptian mummies in Leicester to a Roman fort on Tyneside, this is a gloriously diverse set of projects – but all demonstrate excellence and all will improve the visitor experience.
“In announcing these awards I also want to pay tribute to Giles Waterfield. He was a brilliant advisor to the programme from its inception and sparkled at an expert panel meeting in the very week in which he tragically and unexpectedly died. We all owe him a great deal.”
The ceiling on Sheffield 74 has suffered mould growth due to the conditions in the building, which has meant its withdrawal from demonstration. The funding allocated to the project from DCMS/Wolfson will help us to prevent this happening again.
We currently have to take great care with some of our tramcars which have a lot of textile materials on them to try and limit the harm that is done to them with the current conditions of the building. This is LUT 159 all wrapped up ready for winter.
Part of the funding from DCMS/ Wolfson Foundation will go towards new interpretation, and the redisplay of our smaller artefacts. By the end of the project all the vehicles on display will have its own individual interpretation panel for visitors to read, such as this one here.
Laura Waters commented: “We are absolutely delighted that our funding bid has been successful, and that DCMS/Wolfson are supporting us to improve the long term care of the collection, and its presentation to our visitors. We’ve been working on how to improve the buildings for some time, and the funding will allow us to take a major step forward with this work.
“Whilst the largest part of the funding will go towards the renovation of the roof, a proportion of the funding will also go towards improving the interpretation that we provide for our visitors. We will be redisplaying some of the smaller artefacts which are currently on display, but lack any interpretation for what they are and how they relate to the large tramcar exhibits, as well as incorporating some new items from our stores. There will be a ‘trams running today’ area, where visitors can read about the trams being demonstrated at the Museum, when they are visiting.
“We are really looking forward to getting started on the more in depth planning for the project, because, as you can imagine, the logistics of where to put all the tramcars whilst the work on the building is carried out, will be a bit of challenge.”
The detrimental fluctuations in the environmental conditions will be significantly reduced by the improvements to the building insulation on the walls and roof, which will create a more uniform temperature within the building. This will have enhance the visitor experience in the building, as it will encourage visitors to spend longer exploring the exhibits and displays, in a more comfortable environment.
Having listened to feedback regarding the current lighting, which has been described as poor at lower levels, and in conjunction with the continuing need to consider the needs and cater for visitors, with or without visual impairments, the project will provide both increased light levels overall within the building and in specific areas such as passageways and on wall displays, so visitors can feel more comfortable as they explore the exhibits and read the interpretation.
Richard Sykes said: “The DCMS/Wolfson Museums & Galleries Improvement Fund grant has enabled the Museum to enhance the specification to create greater user benefits than would have been available from our own funds.”
Further funding is required to complete the work, and as a registered educational charity, Crich Tramway Village welcomes donations from the public.