Rural History Centre nets £5 million Lottery Funding – University of Reading28 November 2001
The Rural History Centre at the University of Reading has been awarded over £5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards moving its unique collections to superb new premises.
As one of the first museums in the country to achieve Designated status, the Rural History Centre holds an internationally important collection of artefacts, photographs, books, illustrations and documentary archives related to the countryside. It is renowned as both an academic research centre and a resource for everyone interested in the history of farming and the countryside.
'The new funding brings to an end more than eight years of development work,' says the Centre Director, Professor Richard Hoyle. 'Now we can safeguard the future of these unique collections for future generations in a way which befits their international importance whilst providing a new level of public access. We aim to develop the Rural History Centre as a national centre for the history of the food, farming and the countryside, as a centre for discussion and debate, and as an exciting, vibrant and educational resource for visitors of all ages.'
The successful scheme will move the RHC from its present, time-expired, accommodation on the University's Whiteknights campus to St Andrew's Hall, a Grade 2 listed building with large garden adjacent to the University's London Road site. The University, aided by the HLF's award and the proceeds of the Appeal, will erect at St Andrew's a new building for the Museum of English Rural Life, whose collections will, for the first time, be entirely accessible to visitors, and presented in an innovative and exciting way. The existing building at St Andrew's, formerly a hall of residence, will form a home for the Centre's staff and students, will house the Centre's library and archives and will contain a public reading room With public facilities of a much higher standard than the present building can provide, the new Centre will open up the collections, demonstrating their importance and relevance to a full range of audiences. Extra space will enable the Centre to expand its successful existing programme for schools and colleges, with a range of new services for all sections of the community, including talks, conferences, seminars and lectures. Academics, researchers and students will benefit from enhanced library and study facilities and the storage of artefacts and archives will be greatly improved. A programme of temporary exhibitions will engage with contemporary themes and interactive displays will provide a focus for fun events and activities aimed at all members of the family.
In addition to HLF funding, the Rural History Centre benefits from the support of other funding partners apart from the University, including the Designation Challenge Fund, which has supported the development of the website, the New Opportunities Fund, and, in particular, the Arts and Humanities Research Board. With completion of the new building scheduled for 2004, the Rural History Centre will seek new partnerships with local community organisations and other rural life museums as the project develops whilst continuing to work closely with the Museum of Reading.
Visit our website on: http://www.ruralhistory.org
Contact Professor Richard Hoyle, Director of the Rural History Centre on 0118 931 8662 email firstname.lastname@example.org