Milton Keynes Museum and MK Council have announced it’s now full steam ahead now for their expansion plans – with the appointment of new building contractors and the award of planning permission to proceed.
Construction company Willmott Dixon has been chosen to take on the building of two major new galleries that will tell the key stories of this area, from pre-history times right up to the present day.
An ancient Milton Keynes gallery will cover everything from Stone Age and Roman times through to this area’s role during the Wars of the Roses and Civil War. Crucially, it will also see key archaeological finds returned to Milton Keynes where local people can see and enjoy them.
Alongside will sit a second large gallery telling the story of how a corner of North Buckinghamshire was planned to become the UK’s most ambitious new city, and of the people, organisations and events that have been a part of Milton Keynes’ first 50 years.
The plans suffered a setback when Heritage Lottery Fund’s funding committee overruled their own officers’ recommendations and declined to put more funding into the proposed £7 million project.
With £5.6 million funding secured from Milton Keynes Council, the project partners have spent the last six months revising plans and agreed an initial £750,000 fundraising campaign to plug the gap.
Now planning permission has been granted, building is expected to start in early 2017 with the opening still planned for the museum’s 2018 season.
“Our aims are as ambitious ever: to create a fantastic museum of which the people of Milton Keynes can be proud, which draws in people from all over the UK and allows us to bring home the unique archaeology of this area,” said Museum Director Bill Griffiths.
“We are immensely grateful to Milton Keynes Council for its continuing support and to local people who are visiting in ever greater numbers. This is their museum and we are committed to retaining what they love about what is already here.”
Cllr Liz Gifford, Cabinet member for Community Services, said: “A fully-fledged ‘Milton Keynes centric’ museum has always been in the ‘masterplan’ for the new city – so we owe it to ourselves, as well as past and future generations, to have a museum that will do the rich heritage and history of Milton Keynes justice.”
Peter Owen, managing director at Willmott Dixon said: “This is a really exciting project for Milton Keynes as the two galleries will act as a real showcase for the city’s heritage, telling its story to the local community and those visiting from further afield. This project will have a real lasting legacy in the city and we are very proud to be a part of it.”