The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) is delighted to announce support worth £13.85million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with an award that will transform access to naval heritage and allow for the much-needed move of the Royal Marines Museum into Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
The project, entitled SeaMore, will create the country’s newest national museum collection in an innovative Centre for Discovery at the NMRN’s base in Portsmouth. 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.
Many of these items, which include everything from unique documents, photographs, medals, paintings and archaeology are currently at risk in buildings and stores not fit for purpose. The Centre for Discovery will not only provide a safe haven for these collections but will be available daily to view and access in a way not previously possible.
Key to opening up the Museum to a much wider audience is the move of the Royal Marines Museum and its one million collection items from its current base at Eastney into Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, alongside internationally renowned attractions like HMS Victory and the Mary Rose.
The Royal Marines Museum will move into Boathouse 6, the Grade II Victorian boathouse that currently houses Action Stations to create dynamic galleries, activities and personal stories of the unique ethos of the Royal Marines 350-year history including the Corps’ music which has captivated audiences around the world. Until such time as Action Stations transfers to ownership of the Royal Marines Museum, investment will continue to ensure it delivers the best possible experience for visitors.
The museum will be a living memorial to the loyalty, duty and sacrifices of the Corps and very importantly entirely accessible to those who have been injured or incapacitated in the line of duty. It is due to open in 2019.
Sir Peter Luff, Chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund said:
“We loved the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s plans to tell the very human story of the Royal Navy. It’s a compelling one of highs and lows, of triumphs and failures. The Centre for Discovery will provide a new, spacious venue to relate this narrative while the relocation of the Royal Marines Museum will give it a more prominent home and increased visitor numbers. Having already invested £55m in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, we are confident this latest award of National Lottery money will enable the dockyard to build on its reputation as one of the South East’s most popular heritage destinations.”
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy, warmly welcomed the announcement:
“This is an amazing achievement by the NMRN to boost the visitor offer substantially in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with a new museum that will not only increase numbers but give visitors a chance to find out and see so much more.
“The story of the Royal Marines, their unique ethos and remarkable history as an integral part of the Naval Service will be told to many more visitors. The Centre for Discovery will genuinely transform the way we can tell the story of the Royal Navy securing desperately lacking public access to the newest national collection. This will unite our collections which are dispersed and at risk across the country but most importantly, it will deepen and enrich our visitors’ experience of our collection. The Heritage Lottery Fund has had the vision and foresight to support this internationally important project for which we are very grateful. ”
The HLF grant also includes development funding of £548,726. The overall cost of the project is £17.5 million and The NMRN received a much-needed boost from the Treasury when the Rt Hon George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement that the project would receive £2 million from the LIBOR support for military-related charities.
A report into the Economic Impact Assessment of SeaMore by the University of Portsmouth estimates that the project will initially generate over £26 million into the regional economy and will increase visitor numbers into the Historic Dockyard by 7-8%. The site currently welcomes 750,000 every year and has published its aim to raise this to 1 million within the next ten years.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What will happen to the current museum in Eastney?
The Royal Marines moved into Eastney barracks in 1867. The former Officer’s Mess is the current location of the Royal Marines Museum. The building has served the museum well over the years but it has become increasingly evident that it is no longer fit for purpose as a 21st Century museum with full accessibility – especially important when we are welcoming injured veterans. We appreciate that some Royal Marine colleagues do have an emotional attachment to the building and will endeavour to keep an element of RM heritage in the building. However, the site at Eastney is part-owned by the Ministry of Defence and features in Portsmouth City Council’s published Seafront Strategy so The NMRN will work in partnership with these to secure the future of the building.
2. Will the Yomper statue move into Portsmouth Historic Dockyard?
The Yomper statue, sculpted by Philip Jackson, has become a very popular feature of Southsea seafront. It dominates the entrance to the Royal Marines Museum and was originally commissioned as a marker for the museum. It was unveiled by Lady Margaret Thatcher on 8 July 1992 on the 10th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. It has assumed a popular role as a Falklands Memorial although this was not the purpose of its original commission. We recognise that the statue is popular and well-placed in its current position. Discussions are underway about potentially creating a more contemporary creative piece in the new museum to highlight the broader history of the Royal Marines over and above a memorial piece to a specific campaign.
3. Will Action Stations in Boathouse 6 close?
Action Stations is operated by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT). Peter Goodship, Consultant Chief Executive says: “PNBPT is delighted at the successful outcome of NMRN’s HLF application and until such time as Action Stations transfers to ownership of the Royal Marines Museum, the Trust will continue investment to ensure it delivers the best possible experience for visitors. Following the success of Laserquest, a new family attraction - Ninja Force - will open in Action Stations later this month and is expected to be hugely popular with the young and energetic.