Project Completed with our opening ceremony on April 14, 2022 !

Beaminster Museum is in the middle of a project to ‘extend’ the museum building and to ‘expand’ the museum activities to more involve the community. The extension has given us more room for display and has provided a multi-purpose room for teaching and research activities. The project is partly financed by the Heritage lottery fund and partly from a legacy and donations.

Expansion into the Community

The building phase is now complete and the buildings are now being used to display a variety of exhibitions involving local responses to Covid; work from the schools; and some additions to our permanent collection.

We are now working on ways to make the museum a more integral part of the community, and we have set ourselves a number of targets where we think we can develop an active role in the community.

The Activities

  1. Courses for the community:

Initiate a variety of courses for small groups of interest to the community.

  1. Joint community group cooperation:

Be associated with other volunteer groups in the town in joint activities.

  1. Digital display development:

Use IT to a greater extent to allow the public to use our reference material, image and oral history collections effectively.

  1. Memory Cafe:

Provide a meeting place of a Memory Cafe, using the facilities available at the museum, and some of its artefacts to provide a congenial meeting place for such a group.

  1. School Holiday Museum Days:

Provide a series of ‘Museum days’ for children to have a museum experience during school holidays.

  1. Expand Oral History collection:

Develop an oral history group to collect more oral histories by interviews in the community, and provide a means of displaying these to interested parties.

Courses for the community:
There have been 3 in-house adult courses since Easter, both small, two being in the new Chesterman Room, including introductory website editing.

Joint community group cooperation:
We are officially a Beaminster Festival Venue and are hosting an art exhibition at Festival time. We’ve also collaborated with the schools and youth club to mount our current exhibitions in the new rooms. We are part of the Beaminster Earth Alliance Network, driven by the Town Council, and part of the Plastic Free initiative. As yet there has been no targeted interaction with community groups in terms of their visiting us as a group.

Digital display development:
Much of the work has been infrastructural, and now we have far more IT kit being used now than before the Expansion Project started. One obvious recent enhancement is the audio capability in the Meeting Room, access to oral histories and ongoing expansion of the interactive kiosk.

Memory Cafe:
The Dementia Champions, running this project, judge that it is still too soon to be bringing groups of vulnerable people together. We can do nothing until they deem it safe to start.

School Holiday Museum Days:
The two required pilot sessions have taken place. We demonstrated our ability to put on decent events, but the take-up was disappointing. It has been decided to extend the pilot with further tweaks.

Expand Oral History collection:
The Oral History work is ongoing with an active group steadily collecting recordings from our surrounding villages. All previous recordings have now been transcribed. The best way of presenting this work to the public has yet to be resolved, but at the moment they are accessible through the interactive kiosk, a link on the Museum computers, and can be selectively shared as a web page on the internet if there is specific interest. http://oralhistory.beaminstermuseum.co.uk

Dr Murray Rose, Chairman of the Trustees says “The actual building phase of our Expansion Project, part-funded by the National Lottery, is now completed, with our contractors having left in early February 2021.  It went very well and ran to time despite the pandemic causing an additional dimension which hadn’t been anticipated before we started.”

Phase II of the construction – the carpentry, doors, stairs , and painting – has been completed by ourselves, and finishing the electrics, heating and carpets was completed by contractors. This is now all complete and we are fully open again.

Our extension will enable us to:

  • Tell new stories about Beaminster and its surrounding villages, and for existing ones to be told in a new and better way
  • Host groups of all ages and interests – from school visits to memory cafés for the elderly – much more effectively
  • Carry out research – family history or otherwise – in a more conducive environment
  • React more quickly and effectively to whatever the future holds.

The final agreed design with the West Dorset District Council  is  far from a replication of a 200-year old building style. The preservation of the rear façade will be achieved by a glass link affording a view of the old building and parts of Beaminster. The unusual shape of the rear plot posed problems which will be solved by the use of a zinc raised-seam roof in the place of slate. The Exhibition gallery will be clad in a yellow stock brick, matching well the stone of the existing museum.  The extension will be a talking point of which we shall be deservedly proud”.