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RAF Museum secures investment for new development programme

The Royal Air Force Museum has been awarded investment from The National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund for its Inspiring Everyone: RAF Museum Midlands Development Programme.

RAF Museum team celebrate investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Photo: © RAF Museum
RAF Museum team celebrate investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Photo: © RAF Museum

This ambitious project will deliver a major regional engagement programme, alongside a site transformation at its Cosford location.

An immersive exhibition will explore today’s RAF, a new Learning Centre will provide bespoke facilities, and a purpose-built Collections Hub will enable the Museum’s stored collection to be shared with the public for the first time. The complementary development of a woodland landscape and new public realm will encourage outdoor learning, discovery, and contemplation.

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The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s investment is a significant contribution towards the Museum’s fundraising campaign for the project, and will enable the Museum to progress plans, working with local communities to develop partnerships, programming and designs for the new spaces and exhibitions.

The Museum’s bold plans include delivery of a new innovative nationally relevant exhibition focusing on the critical role of the RAF over the past 40 years. Engaging and interactive displays will invite visitors to discover more about the RAF’s mission today and how the service will need to adapt in the future.

Artefacts ranging from aircraft to films will be selected with community partners and multisensory display interpretation will be developed through co-design. By engaging audiences with wide ranging interests and backgrounds in the development process, the Museum will deliver storytelling that better reflects the diverse communities across the region.

A purpose-built Collections Hub will enable the Museum to conserve and care for more than 65,000 objects, currently held in storage offsite. The Collections Hub will provide an opportunity to share the stored collections with visitors for the first time, supporting a broad programme of engagement and skills-sharing with activities including conservation, research, digitisation, and collections-inspired creative sessions. One of the first uses of the Hub will be as a venue for volunteering, preparing objects for the new exhibition.

Working closely with young people and partners, the Museum will design a new Learning Centre with bespoke facilities dedicated to the development and delivery of lifelong learning programmes, with an increased capacity to engage with a wider audience than ever before. The new learning spaces will enable exploration, discovery and debate, and ignite visitors’ curiosity, both in STEM subjects as well as art, history and design. Learning programmes will support the development of new and existing skills while improving the wellbeing of participants through targeted activities onsite in the new centre, outreach activities and online.

The visitor experience will be enhanced with a new woodland area and public realm, to encourage outdoor learning, discovery, and contemplation. The new greener landscape will provide an opportunity for carbon capture, increasing biodiversity and creating spaces where visitors, staff and volunteers can improve their physical and mental health while supporting the Museum’s Carbon Net Zero target of 2030.

RAF Museum CEO, Maggie Appleton said: “I’d like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of all our staff, volunteers and Trustees for the generous support they have given us – we could not be happier! We’re one step closer to our ambitious plans becoming a reality, made possible thanks to National Lottery players. Over the coming months we will continue to work closely with our local communities to develop the project, ensuring we deliver spaces that will make a vital and positive change to people’s lives across the Midlands and beyond.”

The project will be supported by a number of funders including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as the RAF Museum’s own investment. The National Lottery Heritage Fund has generously supported the RAF Museum’s application for £5m at first round towards its £22.1m RAF Museum Midlands Development Programme. The Museum will now enter into a development phase, before building work commences in early 2025, and is expected to be complete by summer 2027.

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