Bath has officially declared 2011 to be its ‘Year of the Museum’.
For a city of its size, Bath has more museums than most, 17 within a square mile. Over the past five years, £20 million has been invested in redevelopment of three of the museums: the Holburne Museum, the Roman Baths and the American Museum in Britain.
Each museum will be running a programme of events and exhibitions throughout the year for both local residents and for the four million visitors from around the world that come to Bath each year.
In May 2011, the Holburne Museum comes out of wraps after almost three years with a brand new contemporary extension.
The Roman Baths, which welcomes nearly a million visitors a year, has completed a five year, £5.5 million project with a brand new approach to interpretation by revealing stories about people who lived there in Roman times as well as investment in conservation and improving access.
The American Museum celebrates Fab@50 with a special exhibition, Marilyn, The Hollywood Icon opening in March showing 20 of the screen goddess’s gowns plus a trail of 50 objects through the museum. This is the culmination of a five-year period of investment of £4 million gaining, among other things, a new Folk Art gallery and a new education centre in the Coach House opening in 2011.
Several of Bath’s 17 museums tell the story of the city whilst others enrich the visitor’s experience, like the Fashion Museum at the Assembly Rooms and The East Asian Art Museum. A number of the museums are about interesting or famous people who have made Bath their home, like Jane Austen, or William Herschel, who discovered Uranus using his very own telescope and William Beckford who built an extraordinary folly, Beckford’s Tower, some 250 years ago so he could admire his collection of precious objects and gaze out across the countryside.
Bath is, of course, famous for its architecture – it is one of only two World Heritage Sites in Europe to encompass the whole city. One of the city’s Georgian gems, No 1 Royal Crescent, is also hoping to announce a further planned expansion of rooms open to the public in 2011.
The campaign launches with Heritage Open Week starting on 23rd October 2010 with a fun week of family activity across Bath and North East Somerset. Local residents with a Discovery Card get free access to all the museums for this week.
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