Last Friday we reopened the Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham, following an 18 month closure as part of a £2.5 million redevelopment and expansion of the exhibitions and Museum facilities. The Lapworth Museum dates back to the late 19th century, and its collection includes more than 250,000 fossils, rocks, minerals and other archival material and objects, many of national or international significance. Prior to the redevelopment the Museum was primarily used by specialists, and had limited facilities for family and school visitors; our aim has been to expand the reach of the Museum and engage with a much greater audience of the public, schools and families across the Midlands. Our redevelopment has included entirely new galleries, displays and interpretation covering the Evolution of Life, Active Earth, and Mineral Wealth, as well as a new dedicated state-of-the-art Education Room (and a new Learning and Community Development Officer), temporary exhibition space, and improved visitor facilities (cafe, shop, toilets etc.). We’ve tried hard to develop an exciting and engaging modern space, while retaining as much of the Edwardian character of the original Museum as possible. The new Museum is free to visit and open seven days a week, so come see us!
The reopening is the end of a six year project. Personally, I’ve been involved ever since I arrived in Birmingham nearly three years ago, and took on the role of Academic Keeper of the Museum (essentially a bridge between the Museum and research and teaching activity within the University). I’ve been part of a fantastic project team, and involved in many aspects of the process, including leading the development of displays and writing the majority of the text for the Evolution of Life gallery, working closely with our external designers and colleagues. It’s been a hugely exciting project to be involved in, as well as being an enormous amount of work, and we’re all very excited and happy with the result.