Brooklands Museum in Surrey has won the prestigious Museums and Heritage Award for Permanent Exhibition, seeing off stiff competition from some major national institutions such as the Science Museum Group and Natural History Museum. The award was announced at a gala awards ceremony in London and presented by the Reverend Richard Coles.
The award was for the ambitious Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed, a major £8.4M project that involved dismantling, restoring and relocating a Grade 2 Listed WWII Bellman Hangar and reinterpreting it inside as an aircraft factory. As well as restoring and re-profiling the section of original 1907 Race Track where the Hangar once stood, the project also included constructing a new purpose-built Flight Shed to display live aircraft with a new archive store and workshop beneath. The Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed opened to the public in November 2017.
On why the Judges chose Brooklands as the winner, they said: "This new exhibition has it all – it's immersive, creative, people-focused. It is astonishing in its risk-taking, has great volunteers at its heart and challenging in the way it has so brilliantly brought its collection alive." Also, Bold inspiring and interactive - made even more special by great people!"
The competition saw a broad range of entries from remarkable achievements of national institutions to projects crafted with limited resources and those championing their staff and volunteers who work hard to deliver inspiring visitor experiences. The Permanent Exhibition category included National Army Museum, Ashmolean Museum, London's Natural History Museum and part of the Science Museum Group, "Wonderlab" on the shortlist. Other categories included Volunteer of the Year, Educational Initiative, Marketing Campaign and Project on a Limited Budget.
Entry to the new exhibition spaces is included in the general admission price to the Museum which is open daily. The whole experience is enhanced and brought to life by volunteer stewards and demonstrators, some of them former employees of the Brooklands factories (which employed 14,000 people from surrounding towns and villages at their peak). The volunteers share their own reminiscences making every visit unique and which is a highlight for most visitors.
Brooklands Museum Director and CEO, Tamalie Newbery said, "We are absolutely thrilled to have won this award from Museums and Heritage for our Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed project. After years of planning, fundraising and the dedication and hard work of our Volunteers, Staff and supporters, we have produced a visitor experience that really is unique and fully deserving of the incredible heritage that Brooklands is famous for."
The Museum has seen record visitor figures for the same period since the new facilities opened.
Brooklands is also currently one of five finalists for the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award which is the world's biggest museum award and will be announced on 5th July.