The National Museum of the Royal Navy has announced that the closure of the main galleries of the Royal Marines Museum will take place on April 1st.
As a result, the public galleries of the museum at Eastney will close. The museum will remain open for its corporate (conferences and weddings) and curatorial functions and its associated organisations * will continue to operate from the museum. The sea front car park and the Royal Marines Memorial Gardens will remain open to the public. A consultation about the Yomper statue on the seafront closes at the end of February. All existing bookings for corporate events and weddings will be fulfilled up to and including November 2018.
The decision to close is part of the development plan following the awarding, in 2016, of £13.85m from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the SeaMore project which will allow for the much-needed move of the Royal Marines Museum to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This has the potential of increasing visitor numbers to the museum twenty-fold.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said: “Of course, change is always challenging, but by 2020 we are committed to delivering a world class Royal Marines Museum which appropriately recognises the heroism and sacrifice of this elite service. The closure of the Eastney galleries is one of the necessary steps to achieve that goal.”
The new Royal Marines Museum will open in 2020 and be a state of the art museum containing the very latest in technology and hands-on activity. It will occupy the present Action Stations building, one of the original Victorian Boathouses, close to the Victory Gate visitor entrance. The main part of the building, including the historic Mast Pond in front, will be completely refurbished to provide a new museum.
The SeaMore project is now starting development work on the new galleries which will show the Royal Marines story in a new and different way, displaying around 30% more than the present museum. Current exhibits need to be dismantled, key artefacts need to be conserved and refurbished and new displays need to be worked out and planned.
The funding will also create the country’s newest national museum collection in an innovative Centre for Discovery at the National Museum’s base in Portsmouth. The project was boosted by a very welcome £2million contribution from the LIBOR fund for military-related charities.
As part of the Centre for Discovery, over two million artefacts, currently kept in 30 separate stores within 14 buildings across nine sites, will be relocated and made accessible to visitors in a bold move to revolutionise the way the epic story of the Royal Navy is told.
*Note: Associated organisations based at the Eastney Museum are the Friends of the RM Museum, the RM Historical Society, The RM Association Concert Band, and the Fort Cumberland Guard.